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Greek party quits coalition over state TV row

Democratic Left ministers to resign from Samaras government after spat over closure of state television station ERT.

Last updated: 21 Jun 2013 13:44
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Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sparked mass protests after he ordered ERT's closure on June 11 [Reuters]

Greece's coalition government has lost its junior partner after it pulled its two cabinet ministers from the cabinet following a dispute over state broadcaster ERT.

Democratic Left party officials said on Friday that the ministers of justice and civil service reform would resign from the 17-member cabinet of ministers within the day. Two of the party's deputy ministers were also preparing to resign, the officials said.

It was not immediately clear whether the party would continue to support conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's coalition government in parliament.

But there will be no early elections at this stage because the coalition's second largest partner, the Socialist coalition party Pasok, said earlier on Friday that they would continue to support the year-old government.

A written Democratic Left party statement said it would continue to pursue an agenda of reform, implying that it would extend limited support to the government.

Antonis Manitakis, the outgoing minister of administrative reform, confirmed that the moderate Democratic Left party was abandoning the conservative-led administration of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

"Following the party's decision to withdraw from the government and withdraw its ministers I will table my resignation to the prime minister," Manitakis said after a marathon party meeting.

Slim majority

Samaras's three-party coalition has 167 seats in the 300-member parliament, including the 14 politicians from the Democratic Left.

The government would be left with a slim working majority of just three politicians if the Democratic Left withdrew its support.

Al Jazeera's John Psaropoulos reporting from the Greek capital, Athens, said that Greeks were fed up with the government but they wanted stability not more elections.

"The feeling here is a very uneasy mix of anger and frustration," he said.

The crisis in Greece saw the country's borrowing costs spike on Friday and shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were 3.2 percent lower.

The interest yield on the country's benchmark 10-year bond, an indicator of investor confidence in a country, spiked 0.80 percentage point on Friday to 11.35 percent _ the highest in 2013.

Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were down nearly 3 percent at midday on Friday.

Samaras's' coalition parties failed to resolve the dispute over broadcaster ERT following three meetings this week after the high court ruled the decision to close it unlawful.

Bailout targets

Greece has relied on 240 billion euros ($316.8 billion) in bailout loans from the other euro countries and the International Monetary Fund for the past three years.

The country has had to introduce harsh austerity measures demanded by rescue creditors, which have deepened the country's recession.

Samaras ordered ERT's closure on June 11, shutting off its signal and firing nearly 2,700 employees as the country embarks on a second stage of painful cuts likely to focus on reducing the size of the public sector.

Debt inspectors have suspended a review of Greece's public finances amid the political crisis, while the IMF warned Thursday that loan payouts could be affected if that review does not restart soon.

If Greece falls further into political crisis, it could miss some of its agreed bailout targets, which could force the creditors to withhold paying out the next tranche of loans.

"I love Greece but I'm very much looking forward to a Eurogroup press conference where Greece is not going to be discussed and a summer where we don't have any Greek crisis,'' said the EU's top economic official, Olli Rehn said on Thursday night at the closing of a meeting of euro finance ministers.

"I want to appeal to the sense of responsibility of political leaders in Greece."

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