ATHENS — President Christos Sartzetakis called caretaker Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, who is hospitalized with pneumonia, Friday and offered him a mandate to form a government after the conservative party failed to induce a Communist-led grouping into joining a coalition.
Conservative leader Constantine Mitsotakis, who received the mandate Tuesday, said the Coalition of Left and Progress had rejected an offer of more than they had asked for, including the Ministries of Justice and the Interior.
The leftists, who now hold the balance of power, said they would refuse to enter a coalition with Papandreou's Socialists as long as he remains at the helm because of the scandals that plagued Greece during his administration. Papandreou, 70, underwent a triple heart bypass operation in London eight months ago.
Mitsotakis, whose New Democracy party won 145 seats in the 300-member Parliament--six seats short of a majority--in last Sunday's election, was first in line to be asked to form a government and sought a coalition with Harilaos Florakis, chief of the Communist-led grouping.
Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or PASOK by its Greek acronym, won only 125 seats in Parliament and his government resigned Monday. The president telephoned Papandreou because he is next in line to try to form a government.