ATHENS, Greece - Greece's politicians on Monday lurched towards a ninth day of talks to try and form a government that could handle the country's acute financial crisis, stave off default and ensure Greece stays in the euro.
More than a week after inconclusive elections left no party with enough votes for a majority in parliament, party leaders have been unable to agree on power-sharing amongst themselves. Greeks — furious over the handling of the financial crisis and the harsh austerity measures imposed in return for two massive international bailouts — have deserted the formerly dominant conservative and socialist parties in favour of smaller groups on the right and left who campaigned on an anti-austerity ticket.
President Karolos Papoulias, who has been trying to break the deadlock, suggested during a meeting with the heads of three parties Monday night that a government of technocrats or respected personalities be created, with broad parliamentary support.
He will meet with the heads of six of the seven parties that won parliamentary seats in the May 6 election, socialist PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos said after talks Monday with the president and the heads of conservative New Democracy and the small Democratic Left parties.
Venizelos did not list the extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party among those invited. Golden Dawn's surge in popularity in the election has caused consternation amongst many Greeks, and the other parties have been reluctant to have any dealings with its leaders.
If no solution can be found, the country will have to hold new elections in June.
"The effort to form a government continues. All three of us political leaders agreed that it is absolutely necessary to have the broader support of political parties to attain such a viable government," New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said after Monday's meeting with the president.
"The people have given us a very clear mandate: We must try, as far as we can, all of us together, to shape this new government. Everyone must now assume their historic responsibilities," he said.
The turmoil has roiled international markets and led Greece's stock exchange to nose-dive over the past week.