Greece clinches coalition deal to battle bailout terms

GREEK conservative party head Antonis Samaras was yesterday sworn in as Prime Minister at the helm of a three-party coalition dedicated to keeping the debt-stricken country in the euro but demanding softer terms on its international bailout conditions.

The agreement between New Democracy, the socialist party Pasok and the smaller Democratic Left comes three days after the second round of national elections in as many months narrowly failed to deliver Samaras’ party enough votes to form a government on its own.

While all three parties broadly support the €130bn bailout plan with the European Union and IMF, they have pledged to change its harsher conditions.

The new government plans to ask its fellow Eurozone members for an extra two years to implement fresh cutbacks worth a total of €14.5bn, with Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos warning this would be a “big battle”.

The reception of Greece’s fellow Eurozone members to its request will be tested today at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg, where Greece’s much-delayed reform programme will be the priority.

“With the help of God we will do whatever passes from our hands to get out of this crisis,” Harvard-educated Samaras – Greece’s fourth Prime Minister in just eight months – said in his first statement in office.

The cabinet has not yet been named, but Samaras said the finance minister would be Vassilis Rapanos, currently National Bank of Greece chairman.