New Greek PM sworn in; Govt prepares for austerity battle

The leader of the Greek conservatives Antonis Samaras gets sworn in as Prime Minister as three pro-bailout parties agree to form a coalition in the crisis-ridden country.

­A breakthrough in coalition government talks was announced by the head of Greece’s socialists Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday. 

"Greece has a government and this is the message that the outgoing Finance Minister [George] Zanias will take to the Eurogroup," Venizelos told reporters on Wednesday.

Just minutes later, Antonis Samaras got sworn in as Prime Minister after he was officially tasked by President Karolos Papoulias to form a government. The former foreign minister earlier vowed to revise a "torturous" EU-IMF bailout deal and rid the country of undocumented migrants.

"With God's help, we'll do everything we can to get the country out of the crisis as soon as possible," said Samaras, the leader of the New Democracy party, which won Sunday's election.

"I will ask the new government that will be formed tomorrow to work hard so that we can offer tangible hope to our people," he added.

Venizelos, whose PASOK party will enter alliance with the larger conservative New Democracy and the Democratic Party of the Left, says the government is still working out various details, including the distribution of cabinet posts.

Still, the main task facing the new government will be to form a bailout renegotiation team.

Greece has not had an elected government for 223 days. The parties which were elected to the parliament on May 6 failed to form a government; a new poll was called for June 17.

The pro-bailout New Democracy party gained the most votes in Greece’s parliamentary elections with 30 per cent (129 seats in the 300-member parliament). The anti-austerity leftist Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) party followed with 27 per cent of the vote (71 seats). Third came the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) with 12 per cent (33 seats).

Syriza has refused to join any government that will implement the terms of Greece's international bailout loans.

The results of the weekend's elections have kept fears of Greece’s imminent exit from the eurozone at bay for the time being.