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Democratic Left leaves government

Move means coalition becomes two-way affair between New Democracy and Pasok

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Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos expected to hold talks later on Friday after Democratic Left withdraw its ministers from government

Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis (AMNA) Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis (AMNA) Democratic Left (Dimar), the smallest party in the coalition, has confirmed it is leaving the government by pulling out its ministers.

Speaking to reporters, Dimitris Chatzisokratis, a member of the party executive, said the party would request its two cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers to resign their positions. The same applies for Dimar's six ministerial general secretarties and two special secretarties.

Dimar has four technocrat ministers in the government - Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, Deputy Health Minister Fotini Skopouli and Deputy Education Minister Theodoros Papatheodorou.

After the vote, Manitakis was the first minister to confirm he was stepping down: "After Dimar's decision to withdraw its ministers from the coalition government, I will today submit my resignation to the prime minister."

His resignation was followed by that of Roupakiotis.

Chatzisokratis added that Dimar would consider supporting the government, which now consists of New Democracy and Pasok, on a case by case basis. Together, Pasok and New Democracy have 153 seats, amounting to a slim parliamentary majority of three seats.

"The country doesn't need elections," Kouvelis said in a statement obtained by Reuters, adding that his party would continue to back reforms within a European framework.

At a series of meetings next week, the party will clarify how it will vote in government confidence motions. Its executive commitee will meet on Tuesday, its parliamentary group on Wednesday and its central committee, which will have the final say, on Saturday.

Of the Dimar's 14 MPs, eleven voted in favour to leave the government and two against (Grigoris Psarianos, Vasilis Oikonomou. There was one abstention (Spyros Lykoudis). Fourteen members of party's executive committee voted in favour, with four against and one abstaining. 

Dimar's parliamentary group met after coalition leaders' talks on ERT's closure reached a deadlock on Thursday night.

Unacceptable

Speaking to reporters after Thursday's meeting, Kouvelis described as "unacceptable" the government's failure to re-establish live broadcasts following a ruling to do so by the Council of State. "This issue is fundamentally an issue of democracy," Kouvelis said. "We are not responsible for the fact that no common ground was reached."

"It is clear that when we share a responsibility, we share a responsibility," Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said after the meeting, in an apparent criticism of Kouvelis. "We cannot have this back and forth, this a la carte behaviour. We want the government to continue as a tripartite government. We ask Democratic Left to participate in it as in any civilised European democracy."

In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras later invited Democratic Left to continue to be part of the coalition. "I want us to proceed all together, as we started," Samaras said after the negotiations broke down. "But I will forge ahead in any case."

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Democratic Left
Coalition government
Fotis Kouvelis