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Greece Coalition Talks Drag On; Stocks Tank

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CBS Money Watch — Greek party leaders are to resume power-sharing talks Monday as negotiations to create a government drag into a second week, raising the specter of fresh elections that could threaten the crisis-stricken country’s international bailout and its membership of the euro.

President Karolos Papoulias has summoned party leaders back to negotiations at 7:30 p.m. (1630GMT), after talks on Sunday failed to lead to the creation of a coalition government.

The conservatives New Democracy party won May 6 general elections, but the poll failed to produce an outright winner. The second-placed left wing party, Syriza, has refused to join a coalition, demanding that the terms of an international bailout be scrapped or radically renegotiated.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will not attend Monday’s meeting, party officials said.

“They are looking for an accomplice to continue their catastrophic work — we will not help them,” Panos Skourletis, a spokesman for the party, told Mega television.

The political turmoil has taken a toll on markets across Europe, with shares on the Athens Stock Exchange 3.5 percent lower at 590.38 in midday trading.

“Voices of support (in Europe) to Greece … are becoming fewer and fewer, while there is a frenetic increase of those that are predicting the country’s exit from the euro,” an editorial in Greece’s top-selling Ta Nea said. “The dramatic drop in state revenues during the election campaign and the serious souring of the atmosphere in Europe toward Greece mean that after almost certain repeat elections there will be a need for even tougher austerity measures.”

Greece’s two traditionally dominant parties, New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK were hammered on May 6, as the bailed-out country suffers through a fifth year of recession, with more than one in five Greeks out of work.

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