Date: June 22 2012
ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was set to announce the members of his government last night after securing agreement from the country's political leaders on a loose coalition that will seek relief from austerity measures tied to international loans.
Mr Samaras was sworn in on Wednesday, the country's fourth prime minister since November, after his New Democracy party won a June 17 election with almost 30 per cent of the vote.
The socialist Pasok party, which finished third, and the sixth-placed Democratic Left, will provide support from outside the government for a total of 179 seats in the 300-member parliament, ending a period of political limbo that began with the inconclusive May 6 election. ''We have the required outcome, which is a necessary condition for the creation of a new, long-term, government that will give stability and hope to people,'' Mr Samaras said in Athens.
European officials have held out the prospect of flexibility over fiscal austerity for Greece after the country's election amounted to a referendum on remaining in the 17-nation eurozone. Greece has slipped behind budget-cutting targets that euro-area nations and the International Monetary Fund imposed in exchange for €240 billion ($A299 billion) in aid pledges in the past two years.
Mr Samaras, Pasok head Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis have committed to keeping Greece in the euro and to renegotiating austerity measures such as cuts in pensions that have driven the country into a fifth year of recession.
European leaders have sent mixed messages about granting Greece leeway after extending two separate rescue packages.
European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said after the election that ''we will continue to stand by Greece'', while German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a tougher line, declaring, ''There can be no loosening on the reform steps.''
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