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Greece to hold new election on June 17

May 16, 2012 |  7:11 am

ATHENS --The head of Greece’s top administrative court, Panayiotis Pikrammenos, was named the nation's caretaker prime minister Wednesday as voters prepare for another election on June 17 that is widely viewed as a referendum on whether Greece stays in or leaves the Eurozone.

Given narrow powers and stripped of any right to take binding international decisions, Pikrammenos is to be sworn in later Wednesday. He will then open Parliament on Thursday, only to dissolve it a day later so the country can gear up for the new election, senior government officials and the state NET television network said.

Pikrammenos’ appointment follows nine days of attempts by party leaders to form a coalition government after a May 6 election produced the most fragmented political landscape in decades. The election results have plunged the cash-strapped nation into turmoil and deep debate over whether heavy cutbacks made over the past two years in exchange for international loans should continue.

With political chaos adding to fiscal uncertainty, Greece's European creditors have warned that any attempt by Athens to cut loose of its strict spending obligations would spell an end to the billions of dollars in bailout funds that have kept the nation afloat since 2010. Moreover, Greece would likely be forced to stop using the euro, despite the desire of an overwhelming majority of Greeks to hold on to the shared currency.

Even so, repeated opinion polls predict that voters will swing in even greater numbers to Syriza, the once-tiny hard-left party that surged to second place in this month's election because of its promise to scrap austerity and Greece's bailout agreements.


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-- Anthee Carassava

Photo: Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the hard-left party Syriza, arrives for a meeting Wednesday with the Greek president. Credit: Pantelis Saitas / European Pressphoto Agency.