ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The next steps in the laborious process of forming a coalition government in Greece after Sunday’s new inconclusive elections:
_ Conservative New Democracy came first in Sunday’s vote with a higher percentage than on May 6. But it is still 22 legislators short of forming a government on its own. That means it needs a coalition partner. To pass laws, it needs a simple majority of 151 seats in the 300-strong Parliament. In practical terms, however, it will need a much stronger majority to have a real chance of success.
_ New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras receives a presidential mandate Monday to start coalition-building talks. He will have three days in which to strike a deal. If that fails, the mandate goes to Alexis Tsipras, head of the second-placed Syriza radical left coalition, who wants to scrap Greece’s austerity commitments.
_ Tsipras would have another three days to form a government. If he is also unsuccessful the third-placed Socialists would have a go. A new impasse would force a last-ditch effort by President Karolos Papoulias to broker an agreement during special meetings of party leaders.
_ After the previous May 6 vote, which also led to a hung parliament, party leaders exhausted the entire process without result. This time a government looks likelier, as the conservatives combined with Socialist PASOK would control a total 162 seats in Parliament. However, PASOK has said it would prefer a broad coalition including Syriza, even though Tsipras’ party has ruled out the idea.