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Greek pro-drachma leftists get last mandate to form gov't
The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos handed on Monday the third and last exploratory mandate to form a government by the current parliament to Panagiotis Lafazanis, the leader of the newly formed Leftist Popular Union party which rejects the third bailout and supports the return to drachma.
Under the Greek constitution, Lafazanis has three days until Thursday to examine the possibilities.
In a first round of contacts with parties represented in the parliament since Friday when he had received the mandate from the head of state, the main opposition conservative New Democracy (ND) party leader Evangelos Meimarakis was unable to win over allies to form a unity parliament.
The outgoing leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who resigned on Thursday evening to force early elections did not make an attempt and asked for the conduction of snap elections as soon as possible so that Greek people speak their mind on the recent third bailout deal and the country can move forward.
Lafazanis, who served as Energy Minister until July and on Friday led a group of 25 MPs who broke away from the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party's parliamentary group to form the new anti-bailout movement, blasting Tsipras' U-turn from SYRIZA's anti-austerity platform, intends to exhaust the three days.
"We will make use of the popular mandate to show that a consistent anti-memorandum government is needed in the country and is feasible," he said during the meeting with Pavlopoulos.
In statements to the press exiting the presidential mansion he strongly criticized Tsipras' choice for "express ballots" just a few months after the Jan. 25 general elections.
Under the Constitution if Lafazanis also fails to form a government, as political analysts in Athens expect, the parliament dissolves and the president calls elections that should be conducted within a month and appoints the head of the Supreme Court to lead an interim government until the elections.
On Monday Meimarkis insisted that there was "still room for national consensus without the unnecessary ballots" which he has argued will put further pressure on the ailing Greek economy.
He urged Pavlopoulos to call a meeting of the political leaders on Thursday or Friday in a final attempt to reach an agreement before elections are formally called.
No date for the ballots has been set, but the outgoing government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassilis told the Greek national broadcaster ERT that the elections could be held as soon as Sept. 20.
In statements to local media cabinet ministers said that they expected that this time SYRIZA could win a clear parliamentary majority (the party held 149 seats in the current 300-member strong assembly) to form a stronger government and implement Greece's bailout commitments under the updated program to exit the debt crisis.
[Source: By Maria Spiliopoulou, Xinhua, Athens, 24Aug15]
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