ATHENS - With Greece still rudderless following inconclusive elections, the leader of the Socialist party indicated Thursday that he might be able to establish common ground with the leader of the moderate Democratic Left Party and try to form a government that would extricate the country from a deepening political crisis that has angered its foreign creditors and roiled global markets.
Speaking a few hours after he received a presidential mandate to form a government, Evangelos Venizelos, the Socialist party’s leader, and the third politician to receive such an edict this week, said his proposal for a unity government was aimed at helping Greece move beyond its $170 billion loan deal signed in February with foreign creditors and remain in the eurozone. He said it was virtually identical to the plan of Fotis Kouvelis, the Democratic Left leader.
“This is a good omen,’’ Venizelos said.
He said that he would continue talks Friday with the leader of the conservative New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaras, whose party placed first in the elections, and Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, the party that beat the Socialists to clinch second place but failed to reach a compromise in talks with rival party leaders earlier this week.
The baton passed to Venizelos, a veteran Socialist, after the failure of Tsipras to realize his “dream of a government of the left’’ based on a rejection of the debt deal and the onerous austerity measures it has imposed. Tsipras, whose proposal shook European Union leaders and roiled global markets, returned his mandate Thursday to the president, who gave it to Venizelos.
“We exhausted every possibility and scope for creating a government compatible with the popular mandate,’’ Tsipras told the president in televised comments Thursday, referring to voters’ strong support for antibailout parties.
In a subsequent meeting with the president, Venizelos promised to “explore all possibilities for a unity government’’ and told reporters that he would approach all parties that want to keep Greece in the eurozone.
“Things are not easy, and I don’t claim to be optimistic, but I am determined to serve the national interest,’’ Venizelos said, expressing his conviction that although many Greeks oppose austerity they do not want fresh elections but stability.
Kouvelis, for his part, said he had proposed the creation of an “ecumenical government,’’ which suggests that his party would embrace Syriza and the conservatives. He acknowledged public anger with political incompetence and corruption.
The coalition would remain in place until European parliamentary elections in 2014 and would aim to secure Greece’s participation in the eurozone while “gradually disengaging’’ from the country’s debt deal with foreign creditors, Kouvelis said.
Earlier in the week, Samaras, the leader of the center-right New Democracy Party, the front-runner in the polls, had the first stab at forming a government but failed to rally adequate support in favor of the debt deal.
Negotiations will be closely watched by European finance chiefs, worried about the impact of Greece defaulting on its huge debt and leaving the eurozone.