Athens: Greece`s socialists took their shot at forging a coalition government on Thursday after two other parties failed, as the prospect of a new election grew and international partners warned the country it must stick to its austerity programme or abandon the euro.
Evangelos Venizelos, whose once-dominant Socialist party finished a panting third in Sunday`s elections, pledged to do his best to talk rival leaders into a pro-European government that will keep bailout-dependent Greece in the shared European currency.
Voters angered by crushing income cuts imposed to secure Greece`s rescue loans abandoned mainstream politicians and backed parties promising to end the austerity. They gave 21 of Parliament`s 300 seats to the extreme-right Golden Dawn group that wants to mine Greece`s borders and send illegal immigrants to labour camps.
The coalition-building talks exclude Golden Dawn, which rejects the neo-Nazi label but has been blamed for violent attacks against immigrants. But the other six parties elected have failed to agree on a ruling coalition over the past four days, and there is little reason to believe Venizelos will succeed.
"Things are not easy," Venizelos said after receiving the mandate from President Karolos Papoulias. "I am not declaring myself optimistic. But I am declaring myself responsible, and dedicated to this aim that I believe serves the national interest."
He is the third party leader to try, after Antonis Samaras, whose conservative New Democracy won the most votes, and runner-up Alexis Tsipras, who heads the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza.