Greek conservative head to be sworn in as PM
Antonis Samaras, the head of the conservative New Democracy party that came first in Sunday's election, was to be sworn in as prime minister Wednesday after a coalition agreement with two minority partners that support Greece's bailout commitments.
Greece's presidency said the ceremony would take place after Samaras meets President Karolos Papoulias and receives the formal mandate to govern.
Earlier Wednesday, New Democracy agreed with Socialist PASOK and the smaller Democratic Left party to form a coalition government after protracted negotiations. Despite receiving nearly 30 percent of the vote Sunday, the conservatives lacked enough seats to govern alone and had to seek partners that would also broadly back Greece's pledges to bailout creditors for further austerity and reforms.
The deal ended nearly seven weeks of political uncertainty in debt-crippled Greece that threatened to plunge Europe deeper into a financial crisis with global repercussions.
"Greece has a government," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, a former finance minister, said after talks with Samaras Wednesday.
He added that the country will be represented at the upcoming meeting of Eurozone finance ministers by outgoing Finance Minister Giorgos Zanias.
The meeting "will be the first big battle on the revision of the bailout agreement, the creation of a framework that will allow us to move to positive growth and to combat unemployment which is the big problem of Greek society," Venizelos said.
Greek stocks rose in response to the news, with Athens shares up 0.6 percent in the afternoon, limiting earlier gains.
Both Venizelos and Samaras have pledged to try renegotiating some of the harsh austerity measures Greece had to take to secure its bailout loans - which would be stopped if Athens reneged on its commitments. The two parties are also looking for an extension of at least two years in the deadlines for implementing fresh cutbacks worth a total ?14.5 billion ($18.42 billion).
Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis went a bit further Wednesday, saying that Greece should eventually "disengage" from the austerity commitments and "lift those measures that have literally bled society."
Over the past two and a half years, Greeks have suffered repeated income cuts, tax hikes and deteriorating public services amid a deep recession and galloping unemployment. In Sunday's vote - and the previous, inconclusive May 6 election - angry voters strongly favored parties promising to end the hardship by tearing up Greece's pledges for continued austerity and reforms.
However, the anti-austerity standard bearer - the radical left Syriza party - finished a narrow second in Sunday's election that gave New Democracy 129 of Parliament's 300 seats.
Earlier Wednesday, hundreds of poverty-stricken Greeks queued in a central Athens park for free vegetables. Cretan farmers handed out some 2,700 10-kilo packages of produce, in cooperation with the capital's municipal authorities.
Among the people lining up was Panayiota Sidera, 31, from Athens. She said she has been unemployed for two-and-a-half years and her husband is also out of a job. The couple is living on a ?250 monthly disability pension and rent from an apartment they own, and has a ?540-a-month loan installment to pay.
"That's my predicament," she said, adding that the food handout "is helping people, and I'm grateful."
"The government should have been doing this years ago," she said.
- At least 10 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
- 10 dead, 22 missing in Hiroshima landslide
- Afghan government bans NYT reporter from leaving country
- Missouri suburb braces for more racial unrest but calm prevails
- Beşiktaş draw 0-0 at home to Arsenal in first leg of CL
- 'Islamic State' video purports to show beheading of US journalist
- Turkish lieutenant killed, another soldier injured in PKK attack
- Top Saudi cleric: Islamic State is Islam's enemy
- Ankara rejects Israeli claim Turkey helped coup in West Bank
- Turkish President Gül: Davutoğlu to become new prime minister
- Argentina car crash kills 3 relatives of pope
- Turkish sergeant who took part in Lice statue removal dies
- Three killed in traffic accident in central Turkey
- Government says considering talks with PKK's military wing
- Israel attacks Gaza targets, recalls negotiators as truce collapses
- 5 youths taken to ICU after bonzai drug trip in Bursa
- Turkey may send floating power station to Gaza
- At least 34 injured in Kastamonu bus accident
- WHO says Ebola has killed more than 1,200
- 78 CHP provincial heads announce support for Kılıçdaroğlu
- Libyan militia fire rockets into affluent Tripoli residential district
- Hundreds of Taliban fighters begin offensive near Afghan capital
- Bomb kills 6 on way to school in northwest Pakistan
- Blast in China coal mine traps 27 miners
- US ship finishes neutralizing Syria's worst chemical arms
- Wounded Palestinian transferred to Turkey for treatment dies
- Man given one year in prison for tweet about governor's wife
- UN launching major aid operation for half a million in northern Iraq
- Syria strikes militants as US targets them in Iraq
- US police come under gunfire, arrest 31 in Missouri racial unrest
- Islamic State message to America: "we will drown all of you in blood"
- New operations target police investigating tender-rigging, spying
- IS fighters halt Iraqi offensive on Saddam's hometown Tikrit
- Israel, Palestinians renew truce but see risk of more Gaza violence
- One killed in Lice clashes over removal of statue of PKK member
- Israel: Coup attempt in West Bank planned by Hamas official in Turkey
- US says conducted 15 airstrikes around Mosul dam, Kurds claim capture
- Amnesty, HRW: Israel blocks collecting Gaza war crimes evidence
- Court decides to demolish controversial statue of PKK member
- UN sees progress in Iran nuclear probe
- Reports: Islamic State group kills Syria tribesmen