Greek leftists reject proposal for technocrat government

May 15, 2012

ATHENS, May 14 (Reuters) – Greece’s president will ask politicians on Tuesday to stand aside and let a government of technocrats steer the nation away from bankruptcy, but leftists have already rejected the proposal and look set to force a new election they reckon they can win.

Party leaders, deadlocked since a parliamentary vote nine days ago, will convene at the presidential palace at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) but said they had little hope President Karolos Papoulias’s offer would resolve a political crisis that has fuelled speculation Greece’s days in the euro zone are numbered.

The multi-party political landscape has been in disarray since an inconclusive election on May 6 left parliament divided between supporters and opponents of a 130 billion-euro ($168-billion) EU/IMF bailout, with neither side able to form a coalition that would have a stable majority in the legislature.

If supporters and opponents of the bailout cannot agree a government, the head of state must call a new election in June.

The bailout’s main opponents – the surging radical leftist SYRIZA party which now leads opinion polls – said they saw the president’s plan for a government of non-partisan experts as nothing but a scheme to impose the harsh wage and pension cuts demanded by the foreign lenders but already rejected by voters.

“We will attend the meeting. But we are sticking to our position. We don’t want to consent to any kind of bailout policies, even if they are implemented by non-political personalities,” SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said.

The prospect that a future Greek government would renege on bailout pledges sent European shares sliding and Spanish and Italian bond yields higher on Monday. Investors fear a Greek exit from the euro would pile risks on other euro zone economies with debt problems.

Papoulias, 82, named a technocrat prime minister six months ago when Greece’s two biggest parties – the conservatives and socialists – joined forces to enact the bailout. But both of those parties were punished in last week’s election, and those which oppose the bailout now are stronger, angrier and in no mood to compromise.

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