Judge named as Greek caretaker PM

Judge named as Greek caretaker PM

Senior judge Panagiotis Pikramenos was named Greece’s caretaker prime minister today, and new elections will be held on June 17, according to reports on state TV.

President Karolos Papoulias convened the crisis-struck country’s political leaders again today to appoint a caretaker government that will lead the country into the new elections after nine days of power-sharing talks collapsed.

The last election on May 6 left no party with enough votes for a majority in parliament, after voters furious with the handling of the country’s severe financial crisis deserted the two formerly dominant parties, the conservatives and socialists.

They turned instead to a myriad of smaller parties, with big gains for those who pushed for Greece to pull out of its international bailout agreements.

Mr Papoulias met six of the seven parties that garnered enough votes for parliamentary seats: conservative New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras; Alexis Tsipras of the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza; socialist PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos; and the heads of three smaller parties.

The only one not present was the head of the extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party, who was protesting about not being invited to yesterday’s negotiations over a proposal to agree on a government of technocrats.

The inability to form a government and the prospect of another inconclusive general election have increased concern over Greece’s ability to cope with its crippling financial crisis and threaten the country’s continued participation in the euro.

The instability comes at a critical time, with Greece expected to take yet more austerity measures next month to meet targets laid out in its bailout deal with other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga said after the meeting that the party heads agreed that the interim government will not be able to make any internationally binding decisions.

Ms Papariga said: “It will be a strictly caretaker government, which must not take any action at the EU or Nato that will be binding for the Greek people.

“If there is an emergency or unforeseen event, that can be addressed by consultation among the parties with the involvement of the president.”

Council of State head Mr Pikramenos will be appointed prime minister until the new elections.

Opinion polls in the past few days have projected the winner of the new election to be Syriza, which has campaigned on an anti-bailout ticket and made massive gains on May 6 to come in second place with 16.8% and 52 seats in the 300-member parliament.

But it would still not gain enough for a parliamentary majority, meaning more negotiations for a power-sharing government would be likely.

Syriza head Mr Tsipras refused during the power-sharing negotiations to join or support any coalition government that would seek to continue implementing Greece’s bailout. The heads of the other parties that could have formed a coalition had insisted he be on board.

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