Considered a solid but not unshakable coalition, the three-party alliance would control 179 seats in the 300-member assembly — and support an international rescue package against opposition from the upstart Syriza party and other anti-bailout groups.
Samaras has said that he would try to ease some of the measures required by the plan in return for international loans but that Greece must abide by the basic commitments made to its lenders if it expects to keep its standing in the euro zone.
It is in some ways a startling turn for the New Democracy party, on the verge of coming back to power even though it was the party that governed Greece during boom years in which some of its current problems were allowed to fester.
The three-party coalition is Greece’s “one remaining practical solution” to install a government promptly and try to revive its international bailout program after weeks of political stalemate, said Socialist party leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. His comments came as bartering continued over control of different ministries and the strategy to pursue with international lenders.
The Socialist party finished third in Sunday’s vote, a humiliating collapse for a once-dominant bloc. Voters blamed the previous Socialist government, led by George Papandreou, for ushering in the austerity program demanded by the bailout plan.
Venizelos, quoted on the Athens News Web site as the latest round of meetings ended, said the coalition was prepared for a “bitter renegotiation.”
The new government will immediately open talks with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission over where the Greek economy stands after weeks in which work on various economic policy changes and budget projects ground to a halt in anticipation of the election. There may be room to slow the timetable of the bailout plan — the IMF actually argued for more gradual deficit cutting when the program was negotiated in March — but it is not expected that the fund or European officials will back wholesale changes.
“We are talking about ensuring that Greece gets a government and that this government takes full ownership of the program and implements it to put the country back on track,” European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said at a briefing in Brussels, the Athens News Web site reported.
Euro zone’s troubles
Greece’s travails are just one of many problems threatening to pull the euro zone apart and put the broader world economy in danger. Spain’s borrowing costs are rising, support for the Italian government is waning, and the region’s top leaders seem deadlocked between competing visions — of a Europe of efficient production and thrift advocated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and one of shared debt and a solid social contract championed by newly elected French President Francois Hollande.