Greece sinks deeper into crisis

Greece sinks deeper into crisis as political parties scramble to form a coalition government.

Greece flag. Picture: AFP

GREECE - Greece sank even deeper into crisis on Tuesday when a centrist conservative party said leftist candidate for Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras would drive the country out of the euro with his proposal to reject an international bailout.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said in a televised statement that Tsipras was asking him to sign up to the destruction of Greece with his demand that an EU/IMF bailout be rejected as the condition for a coalition government.

"I won't do this," said Samaras, whose party was the biggest after Sunday's shock election but was abandoned by many voters angered by the economic suffering imposed in exchange for a bailout that is saving Greece from bankruptcy.

Samaras said he could support a minority government but not under these conditions, indicating that Left Coalition leader Tsipras had very little chance of forming an administration, and making repeat elections in a few weeks increasingly likely.

Tsipras, 37, who came second in the election, began his efforts to form a government on Tuesday, after receiving a mandate from the president, by renouncing the bailout and threatening to nationalise banks.

His statement is likely to further unsettle jittery investors worried that Greece will again destabilise the euro zone, as it first did in 2009 when the debt crisis began.

"The popular verdict clearly renders the bailout deal invalid," Greece's youngest political leader told reporters.

An official from his party said Tsipras had demanded that the two former ruling parties, New Democracy and the socialist PASOK, withdraw pledges given in exchange for the bailout as a condition for joining his government.

A coalition alliance with these two parties had looked like the only way Tsipras could form a government.

Tsipras got the chance to form the first leftist government in the country's modern history after New Democracy gave up the task as impossible after only a few hours on Monday.

The uncertainty after Sunday's poll has caused widespread fear about the future.

"I'm confused. I feel numb and confused. Only God can save us now," said Panagiota Makri, 80, crossing herself and launching into a long prayer on an Athens street.