Greece Heads Toward New Election
ATHENS — DAYS after a bitterly fought national election, Greece looks increasingly likely to face another vote as efforts to form a coalition government falter. A representative of outgoing socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou was scheduled to meet Communist Party leader Harilaos Florakis Tuesday to try again to form a socialist-communist coalition.
But Mr. Florakis, who met Mr. Papandreou at the hospital Monday, told reporters his communist-led alliance would stand by its call for an all-party government rather than a two-party coalition.
The Communists hold the balance of power after the June 18 election in which Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement came in a distant second with 125 seats in the 300-seat parliament. The conservative New Democracy party led by Constantine Mitsotakis won the most seats with 145.
Papandreou took over the mandate to form a coalition after Mr. Mitsotakis failed to win Communist support last week despite offering two key ministries.
But Florakis has refused to support the socialist movement as long as it is led by Papandreou or those accused in recent banking and arms business scandals.
The prime minister is expected to turn in his mandate Tuesday after President Christos Sartzetakis returns from a European Community summit meeting in Madrid.
Florakis will then have three days to form a coalition. If he fails, President Sartzetakis will call for a national unity government. If this fails, new elections will be held in six weeks.
Mitsotakis has alerted his party to prepare for another election.
``Political developments have not yet become clear, but whatever the case may be, new elections are not very far away,'' he said.
Even if a national unity government were formed, its only purpose would be to prosecute socialist ministers accused of being involved in multi-million-dollar financial scandals before new elections were held, he said.
The differences between the parties guarantee another bruising election campaign with Papandreou's participation uncertain because of his health. He developed kidney problems after heart trouble and pneumonia.
Diplomats have said if Papandreou quits politics now, his socialist party could be split into left and right factions, thus opening the way to a victory for New Democracy.