Vassiliki Thanou, president of the country’s supreme court, will head the caretaker government until the elections, expected next month
Greece’s top supreme court judge Vassiliki Thanou was named the head of a caretaker government to lead the country to elections, which are expected next month.
Greek election confusion raises fresh fears over ability to pay debts
After a final effort to get political party leaders to form a coalition failed, the office of president Prokopis Pavlopoulos said he was obliged to appoint a new caretaker administration that will be sworn in on Friday.
Thanou, the president of the supreme court, becomes the country’s first female prime minister and will be sworn in later on Thursday.
The date for Greece’s general election – the fifth in six years – is to be officially announced by Pavlopoulos by the end of the week, but it is likely to be scheduled for 20 September.
The outgoing prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, resigned last week and triggered the snap elections after suffering a major rebellion in his Syriza party over Greece’s huge new international bailout.
On Wednesday, he ruled out forming a national unity government should he fail to win an outright majority.
Tsipras resigned barely seven months into his four-year term following a rebellion in his radical left Syriza party over his agreement to austerity terms tied to Greece’s third international bailout.
Syriza hardliners were furious that Tsipras signed the deal that demands even harsher spending cuts and tax hikes than those he had vowed to abolish when he was elected in January. The deal was approved with support from opposition parties.
The 41-year-old prime minister has argued he was left with no choice but to accept European creditors’ demands, in order to avoid Greece defaulting on its debts and being forced out of the euro currency the country shares with another 18 European nations.
Greece has relied on funds from two bailouts by other European countries and the International Monetary Fund totaling nearly 240 billion euros ($270 billion) since 2010.
The second bailout expired earlier this year, and Tsipras insisted he could negotiate a better deal for his country. But the talks with creditors floundered and eventually collapsed in June, with Tsipras calling a referendum and urging Greeks to vote against creditor demands. They overwhelmingly did so, but the prime minister eventually signed up to even stricter demands in return for a third bailout worth 86 billion euros ($97 billion).
Despite his about-face on policies, Tsipras is expected to win the next election although it’s unclear whether he will secure enough parliamentary seats to govern alone. He has ruled out a coalition with any of the centrist opposition parties: center-right New Democracy, the socialist PASOK party or the small centrist To Potami party.
Unless other smaller parties manage to enter Parliament, that would leave his current coalition partner, the nationalist Independent Greeks.
It is unlikely he would form a government with Popular Unity, formed by Syriza dissenters, the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn, whose leader and lawmakers still face criminal charges, or the communist KKE party.