Belfast Telegraph

Judge is to head caretaker government in Greece

Greece has appointed a senior judge as prime minister of a caretaker government that will lead the country to repeat elections next month.

The move comes as Greece lurches through a political crisis that has threatened its continued participation in the European single currency.

Council of State head Panagiotis Pikrammenos (67) was sworn in last night.

Political leaders said he would not be able to make any binding commitments until new balloting, which is expected on June 17.

The protracted political uncertainty has worried Greece's international creditors as well as Greeks themselves, with the country's president warning wrangling political leaders that millions of euros had been withdrawn from banks in the aftermath of the inconclusive May 6 election.

About €700m (£559m) in deposits have flown out of Greek banks, President Karolos Papoulias told party leaders on Monday after being briefed by central bank governor George Provopoulos.

The May 6 election saw a massive rise in popularity for parties that advocate pulling out of Greece's commitments to its international bailout deal, under which it agreed to strict austerity measures in return for billions of euros in rescue loans.

The spending cuts and tax hikes have left the country mired in the fifth year of a recession and sent unemployment soaring to above 21%.

Negotiations to agree on a coalition government collapsed on Tuesday, nine days after voters furious with the handling of the country's financial crisis deserted the two formerly dominant parties in favour of smaller anti-bailout groups. The election left no party with enough votes for a majority in parliament.

Greece now faces a month of inertia, with a government hamstrung by party leaders' insistence that it can take no binding decisions.

Popular