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Radical left may form Greek govt

The head of a left-wing party opposed to the terms of Greece's bailout got the mandate on Tuesday to try to form a new government after an election produced a stalemate in parliament.

world Updated: May 08, 2012 23:40 IST

The head of a left-wing party opposed to the terms of Greece's bailout got the mandate on Tuesday to try to form a new government after an election produced a stalemate in parliament.

Alexis Tsipras, the 38-year-old head of the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, began coalition talks a day after conservative party leader Antonis Samaras failed to form a government.

Voters furious over years of painful budget cuts and higher taxes hammered Samaras' conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK in Sunday's ballot. The two parties have dominated politics for the last four decades and had backed Greece's multibillion-dollar bailouts.

No party won enough votes to form a government, leaving a coalition or new elections as the only options.

Tsipras' party came a surprise second after campaigning hard to scrap the international bailout agreements that have kept Greece afloat but also brought in harsh austerity measures. Greece is now in its fifth year of recession and unemployment has spiked to over 20%.

"This is a historic moment for the Left and the popular movement and a great responsibility for me," Tsipras said after meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

New Democracy won the election with just 18.85% of the vote, as the angry electorate scattered support to several smaller parties - ranging from moderate leftists to an extreme right party blamed for street attacks against immigrants.

The result of the elections have raised new questions about Greece's ability to stay solvent and in the euro currency bloc. Failure to reach a deal this week would trigger another general election in June.