© Reuters. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis walks at the Presidential Palace, at a meeting with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, to receive an official mandate to try to form a coalition government after the general election, in Athens, Greece, May
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek parties that made it to the parliament after last weekend’s inconclusive elections are expected to meet on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to form a coalition government.
But the process is not expected to succeed as the top three parties have already rejected separate mandates to form a coalition, opening the way for new elections next month.
President Katerina Sakellaropoulou invited the leaders of the five parties whose share of votes surpassed the threshold of 3% for talks.
The conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which romped to victory polling 40.1%, but fell short of an outright majority, has turned down a mandate for a governing coalition.
It is pushing for a second vote on June 25, hoping to govern on its own.
The leaders of the two main opposition parties, leftist Syriza and Socialist PASOK, have also declined separate offers to seek a coalition after failing to secure the necessary number of seats in the 300-seat legislature.
The Communist KKE party and the small right-wing Hellenic Solution, which also made it to parliament, have been reluctant to join forces with others.
Sakellaropoulou is now expected to appoint a senior judge to lead a caretaker government in the run-up to new elections tentatively set for June 25.
In the Greek electoral system, the winner of a second vote following an inconclusive first election receives 20 bonus seats in parliament if they get 25% of the vote, and up to 50 bonus seats if they get about 40%.
If Mitsotakis secured 40% of the vote again or even a little less, he would still have a majority.
To benefit from bonus seats, New Democracy needs to stay the biggest party, but that seems likely, as its nearest rival, Syriza, secured just a fifth of the votes on May 21.
The total seats Mitsotakis secures will, however, depend on how many other parties make it into parliament.
The new parliament which emerged from Sunday’s elections will convene next Sunday and will be dissolved a day later before the caretaker government takes over.
On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called for coalition talks with Greece’s opposition parties following the resignation of his government’s longest-serving minister, Kostas Skrekas. This could potentially pave the way for new elections in the nation.
If no coalition is formed, the government may seek parliamentary support from the opposition to pass key legislation or move forward. Otherwise, it may be necessary to hold snap elections.
Mitsotakis said he plans to meet with the leaders of the four main opposition parties in the coming days to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition and setting out a unified agenda. He also discussed the possibility of early elections, while stressing the need for the country to remain stable and focus on economic recovery.
The four main opposition parties are Syriza, New Democracy, To Potami, and the Greek Communist Party. All parties have so far expressed an interest in forming a coalition, with the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, saying that his party is open to talks with the government about a possible coalition.
In addition to attempting to form a coalition, Mitsotakis is also pushing ahead with voting on several key pieces of legislation proposed as part of Greece’s recently negotiated bailout agreement.
The bailout agreement, negotiated with Greece’s creditors, includes deep reforms in economic, fiscal and pension-related areas. The reforms are essential for the recovery of the Greek economy, which is currently estimated to be 1.5 percentage points below its pre-crisis levels of GDP.
Overall, the negotiations between the parties in Greece to form a coalition or hold elections could set the tone for the nation’s future. It remains to be seen how the negotiations will play out and what the ultimate outcome will be.