Greek party leaders to meet for coalition talks, open way for new elections

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek parties that made it to the parliament after last weekend’s inconclusive elections are expected to meet on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to form a coalition government.

But the process is not expected to succeed as the top three parties have already rejected separate mandates to form a coalition, opening the way for new elections next month.

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou invited the leaders of the five parties whose share of votes surpassed the threshold of 3% for talks.

The conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which romped to victory polling 40.1%, but fell short of an outright majority, has turned down a mandate for a governing coalition.

It is pushing for a second vote on June 25, hoping to govern on its own.

The leaders of the two main opposition parties, leftist Syriza and Socialist PASOK, have also declined separate offers to seek a coalition after failing to secure the necessary number of seats in the 300-seat legislature.

The Communist KKE party and the small right-wing Hellenic Solution, which also made it to parliament, have been reluctant to join forces with others.

Sakellaropoulou is now expected to appoint a senior judge to lead a caretaker government in the run-up to new elections tentatively set for June 25.

In the Greek electoral system, the winner of a second vote following an inconclusive first election receives 20 bonus seats in parliament if they get 25% of the vote, and up to 50 bonus seats if they get about 40%.

If Mitsotakis secured 40% of the vote again or even a little less, he would still have a majority.

To benefit from bonus seats, New Democracy needs to stay the biggest party, but that seems likely, as its nearest rival, Syriza, secured just a fifth of the votes on May 21.

The total seats Mitsotakis secures will, however, depend on how many other parties make it into parliament.

The new parliament which emerged from Sunday’s elections will convene next Sunday and will be dissolved a day later before the caretaker government takes over.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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