Greek radical leftist rejects call for unity government
By Harry Papachristou and Renee Maltezou
ATHENS (Reuters) - The leader of Greece's leftist SYRIZA party on Tuesday ruled out forming a government with pro-bailout parties after a June 17 election that could decide the nation's future in the euro zone.
Instead, SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras said that, if elected, he would lead a government of the left against the austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Tsipras, who wants to scrap a 130 billion euro ($162 billion) bailout deal signed in March, rejected what he called an "all-party ragtag" following calls for a unity government in case next week's vote proves as inconclusive as the last one held in May.
"After two consecutive elections, people demand a clear direction," he told reporters, rejecting an approach by Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the Socialist PASOK, who said at the weekend that Greece risked social unrest unless all parties were involved in making the hard decisions which lay ahead.
The last opinion polls published before a pre-election blackout showed SYRIZA running neck-and-neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which wants only minor adjustments to the bailout.
No party appears strong enough to form a government alone.
Tsipras, a 37 year-old civil engineer who shot from obscurity to international prominence after the May election, repeated his pledge to keep Greece in the euro zone, despite his promise to renege on the bailout accord.
"Lest there be any doubt, my movement - Syriza - is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone," Tsipras wrote in a column for Wednesday's edition of the Financial Times. Continued...