Greek elections pushed back to April

28.12.11 @ 08:32

  1. By Leigh Phillips

BRUSSELS - A general election in Greece to replace the technocratic administration of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has been pushed back to April, governing parties have agreed, although the precise date remains unclear.

  • The technocratic administration of Lucas Papademos looks set to rule longer than envisaged (Photo: Gerard McGovern)

The current government needs two additional months to settle plans outlining fresh austerity and structural adjustment demanded by international lenders and to complete negotiations with creditors over a multi-billion-euro debt write-down.

Speaking to a meeting of the political council of the centre-left Pasok, finance minister Evangelos Venizelos told his party colleagues that elections would be later than the 19 February date originally agreed.

"Elections will be held after Easter, in late April," he said, according to Agence France Presse.

The three major parties had backed the mid-February date ahead of the formation of a grand coalition government in November following the resignation of former leader George Papandreou.

However, the conservative New Democracy party has reportedly dropped its insistence on the earlier date. But the party has drawn a line at 15 April - Greek Orthodox Easter.

Venizelos told his colleagues that the vote would be held after Easter.

Pasok, languishing in the polls, for its part is happy to see the technocratic administration continue well past the spring holiday.

The Papademos government needs more time to haggle with banks over the details of a €100 billion hair-cut to their holdings of government debt.

In October, financial institutions had agreed to a 50 percent write-down on Greek sovereign bonds as part of a second bail-out package, but the fine print has yet to be decided.

Both the negotiations with banks and the planks of the new austerity and structural adjustment programme must be endorsed by the parliament before the first major tranche of the new €130 billion bail-out can be released.

Inspectors from the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are to return to the Greek capital in January to perform an assessment of how the new administration has improved on the former government in adhering to debt reduction targets imposed under the first bail-out scheme.

The troika officials will also consider how Athens is proceeding with new austerity plans required by lenders involved in the second rescue.