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May 16, 2022

Greek government seeks new PM

Papandreou agreed to step down, set up a coalition cabinet.

ATHENS – Greek leaders were due to agree the name of a new prime minister to lead a unity government until fresh polls are held, the BBC reported. The deal came after Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to stand down. It followed days of upheaval caused by his decision – now revoked – to hold a referendum on the EU bailout plan to tackle Greece’s debt crisis.

The names of Lukas Papa­demos, a former deputy president of the European Central Bank, and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos have been floated. But according to sources quoted by CNN, Venizelos is likely to remain in his post as finance minister in a new government. Another possible candidate for the prime minister job would be Petros Moliviatis, CNN added.

The coalition is due to lead the country until elections, which could be held on February 19, the finance ministry said. Once the new leader is named, President Karolos Papoulias will invite parties to join the new government. Papoulias announced the agreement after hosting talks between Papandreou and main opposition leader, Antonis Samaras.

Papandreou will stand down when the new government takes over. He and Samaras were expected to discuss the details of the deal over the phone on Monday. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos was set to brief eurozone finance ministers on progress later on Monday when the ministers met in Brussels.

Meanwhile, German Chan­cellor Angela Merkel expres­sed her “respect” for Papandreou’s decision to step down, during a phone call on Monday, a spokesman said. Greece’s new political roadmap envisages elections being held once the government has approved an EU bailout package.

Papandreou had been trying to build a national unity government to replace his Pasok party administration, but Samaras, of the New Democracy party, had been refusing to negotiate unless his rival resigned first. The two men also disagreed sharply on the timing of new elections, with Papandreou seeking a delay of several months while Samaras wanted them immediately.

A Greek government spokes­man said a new administration would be sworn in and a confidence vote held within a week if all went well. At a late-night meeting on Sunday, Venizelos met opposition members and agreed that February 19 would be the most suitable date for elections.

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