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Leftist chief rejects part in ND-PASOK coalition, hints at second vote

Fotis Kouvelis, the leader of Greece’s rising leftist party Democratic Left, has ruled out the possibility of joining a coalition government with PASOK and New Democracy and has suggested that a second round of elections could be needed after May 6.

Speaking to Skai radio on Thursday morning, Kouvelis said that Democratic Left, which was formed in 2010 and has seen its poll rating rise in recent months, would be willing to take part in a coalition government but said that a partnership with ND and PASOK was not possible as long as Greece’s two main parties remained committed to the austerity policies of the past two years.

“New Democracy and PASOK choose to defend the policies they have implemented, so based on our political view it is not possible for us to discuss a coalition with these two parties,” said Kouvelis, whose party garnered 12 percent in Wednesday’s survey.

“They are both a problem and we do not want to be an alibi for them. We will not take part in such a coalition government.”

Kouvelis’s rejection of a three-party unity administration came just a few hours after a Public Issue opinion poll for Kathimerini and Skai TV indicated that at this stage PASOK and ND would not gather enough support to form a government on their own.

The survey showed New Democracy had slipped to 19 percent and PASOK dropped slightly to 14.5. The two parties are likely to need at least a combined total of 36 percent, rather than the 33.5 percent they got in the Public Issue poll, to have a chance of forming a coalition.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras reacted to the announcement on Wednesday that elections would be held on May 6 by repeating his message that he wants voters to give his party a clear majority at the ballot box.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, meanwhile, has accepted that his beleaguered party cannot hope of forming a government on its own. Instead, he has called on supporters to ensure that the Socialists come first on May 6 so they can call the shots in any coalition.

The Public Issue poll also indicated that nine parties would secure the minimum support of 3 percent needed to enter Parliament, making for a fragmented political landscape.

Such an outcome could increase the likelihood of a second round of elections being needed. Kouvelis said that such a scenario could not be ruled out.

“If the May 6 elections do not produce a clear outcome the it is possible that we will have to go to a new round,” said the Democratic Left chief.

The three leftist parties - Democratic Left, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) - garnered a combined total of 36 percent, slightly more than New Demcoracy and PASOK put together. But prospects for cooperation between the three are virtually non-existent.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras suggested recently that the three leftist groups should work together so they can unite behind one candidate in single-seat constituencies but his offer was rejected.

Speaking to Skai radio, Kouvelis dismissed it as a “public relations trick”.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday April 12, 2012 (12:37)  
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