Greece PM Papademos announces 6 May election

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has called elections on 6 May, bringing an end to his technocratic government.

Mr Papademos, an economist and former vice president of the European Central Bank, is to ask President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve parliament.

The election will be Greece’s first since the start of the debt crisis that has led to drastic spending cuts and violent protests.

Opinion polls suggest parties opposed to austerity could make big gains.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says the 6 May date comes after months of speculation and raises the prospect of a short and highly-charged campaign.

Mr Papademos heads an interim technocratic government, formed in November last year with the aim of steering the country through its spiralling debt crisis.

His main task was to ensure Athens was given the next tranche of its initial 110bn euro ($144bn; £91bn) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and to ratify a second 130bn euro bailout.

The government is backed by both of the two big parties that have dominated Greek politics for decades – the conservative New Democracy party and the socialist Pasok party, which won the last election in 2009.

Both are thought likely to lose ground to left- and right-wing fringe parties that have benefited from mounting anger at cuts to wages and pensions imposed in order to secure aid from the EU and the IMF.

Last month, Mr Papademos’s government secured Greece’s second international bailout after reaching a deal with private creditors for a credit swap aimed at reducing its debt burden.
The agreement required the Greek government to adopt further tough spending cuts.

The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt says there are fears in the wider eurozone that the measures could be in peril if anti-austerity parties gain a majority in the Greek parliament as a result of these elections.
Greece’s economy has shrunk 16% in the past four years as a result of the crisis, and widespread dissatisfaction with high unemployment and austerity has led to a wave of strikes and demonstrations.

From the BBC

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