Greek radical socialists torpedo talks to form government
There is absolutely no incentive for the Coalition of the Radical Left party led by Alexis Tsipras to join a "unity government" being proposed by President Karolos Papoulias, and save Greece from certain default. Polls show that if Tsipras can torpedo these talks, the elections he would force next month would bring his party into power.
If Mr. Papoulias fails to get party leaders together in a coalition that can command a majority in Parliament, he will call a new election and appoint an interim government to lead Greece until then. The date mentioned as most likely for the election is June 17.
The political wrangling once again highlights the clash in Greece between democracy and market forces. Greece's political parties need to form a government that reflects the will of the people - who on May 6 largely voted against the loan agreement and would probably take to the streets if a new government paid them no heed - without reneging on the country's commitments to Europe and its creditors.
European leaders have warned that if Greece does not keep its promises, Europe will stop financing it, which would quickly lead to Greece defaulting on its debts and leaving the euro zone, as the countries who share the common euro currency are known.
But Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, has gained political momentum precisely by defying Europe's threat. On Sunday, he insisted that his party would not join any unity coalition with the Socialists and New Democracy, the two major parties who were in government when the debt deal was signed. Syriza will "not be complicit in their crimes," Mr. Tsipras said.
"Those that governed the past two years have not only failed to accept the message from the elections," he said. "They continue their policy of blackmail."
What Tsipras calls "blackmail" is the bailout that has so far spared Greece the economic chaos of a default. That doesn't seem likely now. The Radical Left party and the slightly less radical Democratic Left party will probably be able to form a government with some smaller, anti-bailout parties after the new election and the austerity budget and other reforms demanded by the EU for their $200 billion bailout of the Greek economy will be scuttled.