Greek Opposition Seeks Partners to Form Government

GREEK opposition leader Constantine Mitsotakis, whose center-right New Democracy Party finished first in Sunday's national election, received a mandate Tuesday to form a coalition government by tomorrow. Mr. Mitsotakis, seven seats short of an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament, urged a newly formed Communist Alliance to support an interim administration for ``cleansing'' Greek politics before new elections are called.

If he fails to form a government, the mandate will be given to Andreas Papandreou, whose Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), came in second.

Mitsotakis said he wanted Communist support in order to punish Socialists involved in the financial scandals that have rocked the government since October.

The interim government should have a specific mandate to strip Pasok deputies and ministers of their immunity from prosecution, he said. The mandate would be for a fixed period of time and would have no other business than prosecuting those suspected of involvement in the arms and banking industries scandals. Once prosecutions were possible, elections would be held, he said.

Mr. Papandreou, who resigned Monday but will remain as caretaker prime minister, also wooed the Communists Tuesday, but ruled out any cooperation with New Democracy.

Communist Party leader Harilaos Florakis has rejected both a coalition with New Democracy or the Socialists.

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