Papademos Set To Be New Greek Prime Minister - Report
The new Greek prime minister is expected to be announced very soon after a meeting between current PM George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras, and according to Skai Radio in Greece, it will be Loucas Papademos, formerly an ECB vice-president.
The political leaders have been in constant communication with Papademos who is seen as the favourite for the transitional government's PM. Meanwhile, a Cabinet meeting has just wrapped up and ministers have been asked to tender their resignations, says Greek state TV.
The new government is expected to see through the new debt deal worked out in Brussels on Oct. 26 amid meetings between delegations from PASOK and New Democracy (ND) parties. The delegations included Evangelos Venizelos, the current finance minister from PASOK, Filipos Sachinides (PASOK), Christos Staikouras (ND), Georgios Stamatis (ND) and Chrysanthos Lazarides (ND).
Early indications from the EU political arena are positive, with President of the European People's Party (EPP) Wilfried Martens saying: "Antonis Samaras has shown European statesmanship." German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked Papandreou for showing 'courage and decisiveness.'
The political thriller in Greece took the new turn over the weekend with Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for a meeting between himself, President Karolos Papoulias and opposition leader Antonis Samaras, raising fresh speculation the premier may resign.
The aim of the meeting was to reach an agreement on the country's political future as soon as possible, said Papandreou. A meeting with the Council of Ministers has reportedly produced seven conditions for the formation of a consensus government, including securing the next tranche of the 110 billion-euro rescue fund for Greece; and elections in March 2012. Greece needs the eight billion euros coming from the EU/IMF by mid-December or else it will run out of cash for the state payroll and other state costs.
For his part, Samaras has laid down three conditions for a consensus government; the first is that Papandreou resigns, the second is that the transitional government ratifies the EU-IMF loan agreement but no new austerity laws or measures; and the third condition is early elections.
In response to Samaras' call for his resignation, Papandreou said that his government would hand over the baton, but not in a vacuum, and that it will take time to organise new elections, possibly by February or March 2012.
Last week, Papandreou surprised EU leaders with a proposal that a 50 percent devaluation of Greece's sovereign debt should go to a public referendum. There was considerable market unrest over the announcement and European stock markets fell on the news, which was seen as a potential exit for Greece from the Eurozone. EU leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy made strong statements criticising the idea and saying that Greece would not get one more cent in a 110 billion euro bailout agreed with the IMF and EU.
The debt devaluation plan just passed a vote of confidence in the Hellenic Parliament on November 4th, but uncertainty prevails, along with the difficulties austerity measures have brought to the Greek economy. With over 800,000 unemployed, a staggering debt of 365 billion euros, internal political struggles and a sluggish economy, Greece's dark days are not yet over.
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