Debt-plagued Greece braces for new polls in June


Greek President Karolos Papoulias’s meeting with heads of six political parties at presidential palace in Athens on May 16, 2012.

 Greek political parties have agreed on forming a caretaker government to hold new parliamentary elections in June after previous polls failed to give any party an absolute majority earlier in May.

After meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, party leaders on Wednesday agreed to appoint senior judge Panagiotis Pikrammenos as the head of the interim government.

Later in the day, Pikrammenos was sworn in as caretaker prime minister, who is mandated to hold the new elections on June 17, AFP reported.

Heads of six out of seven parties, namely Antonis Samaras of the main center-right political party, New Democracy, the Radical Left Coalition’s Alexis Tsipras, Evangelos Venizelos of Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK, and the heads of three smaller parties took part in the meeting on Wednesday.

The main absentee was the head of the extremist right-wing Golden Dawn Party, who did not attend the meeting after not being invited to talks with the president on Tuesday.

Numerous attempts to form a coalition government failed following the May 6 inconclusive elections.

Greece’s political uncertainty has led to market slump across Europe and Asia.

On Tuesday, after the Greek president unsuccessfully urged the parties to form a coalition government, European stocks dropped and the euro fell below USD 1.28, a four-month low.

Latest statistics show that the Greek economy has lost 6.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Greece could go bankrupt by the end of June if international lenders refuse to prop the country up with a EUR-130-billion bailout fund to keep it afloat and inside the eurozone.

“If we have the repeat crisis like we did in the previous elections then, of course, we’ll go through the same procedure of the exploratory mandate,” Press TV’s Athens correspondent Constantine Venizelos said.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, SYRIZA, whose coalition came in second in May 6 elections due to his pledge to overturn the government’s austerity measures, has called on Greeks to continue resisting pro-bailout parties like they did in the previous polls. Opinion polls suggest his party could finish first in the upcoming election.

The country’s political and economic turmoil led to mounting concerns among eurozone financial ministers that Athens would not comply with the austerity measures it agreed to with its European neighbors in exchange for endorsement of the second financial bailout, and would finally leave the 17-nation eurozone.

The Greek are, meanwhile, outraged at two years of harsh austerity measures imposed in return for financial assistance.

MSK/SS/AZ/GJH/HN

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