The latest round of talks failed after the left wing leader who wants to renegotiate the country’s critical EU bailout refused to join forces with parties that support the austerity measures.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Radical Left Coalition or Syriza, said his presence in the proposed coalition was merely being sought by more established, pro-bailout parties as a “Leftwing accomplice”.
Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of the socialist Pasok party, admitted the talks had failed and said he would return his mandate to form a government to the president today.
A slim chance remains that an emergency “national unity” government could be formed if the president can convince the parties to work together.
But given the rancour on display, a new election next month is a more likely outcome, a scenario that would weaken confidence in Greece’s ability to meet its debts to international creditors and stay in the euro.
Greece’s motorcycling Marxist, Alexis Tsipras, makes an unlikely champion, with his commuter leathers and largely unrealistic Left-wing views, but he seems to be about the best of a bad bunch right now. As far as I can see, he’s the only member of the Greek political class who makes any kind of sense, albeit only marginally so and with one rather important deficiency.
Rightly, he’s rejected Berlin’s austerity programme as “barbaric” and counter-productive (though, incongruously, he rides to parliament on a German-made BMW), but he’s not yet managed to reconcile himself to the logical corollary of this analysis – that Greece must take back control of its own destiny by leaving the euro. As it is, the economy is condemned only to permanent depression.
Youth unemployment in Greece was yesterday revealed to have overtaken even that of Spain, at an almost unbelievable 53.8 per cent. This for an economy which, if it sticks to the programme, has a further 150,000 public sector jobs still to shed. Those who think that, with the requisite degree of structural reform, the private sector will automatically move in and fill the gap can forget it.