Greece inched towards a three-party coalition on Tuesday under fierce pressure from financial markets and world powers after a pro-euro party won elections on a surge of anger over austerity.
The New Democracy conservatives were negotiating a possible coalition with Pasok socialists and the Democratic Left party after clinching a narrow victory against the radical leftist Syriza which wants Greece’s EU-IMF bailout deal torn up.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos has voiced hope that a coalition will be announced soon and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said that it was possible “within the next few hours, if we reach agreement”.
After meeting with Kouvelis, Venizelos said coalition talks were being “sped up” and added: “Greece must and will have a government as soon as possible.”
New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras, a 61-year-old former foreign minister educated at Amherst and Harvard in the United States, won 129 of the 300 parliamentary seats on Sunday, Syriza won 71, Pasok 33 and Democratic Left 17.
The results of Greece’s most important elections since the end of military rule in 1974 eased fears of an immediate euro exit but any new government faces a potential stand-off with its EU-IMF creditors over the terms of the bailout.