News24

Greece calls snap elections for April

2012-02-13 19:31

Athens - Greece will hold general elections in April, the government said on Monday, hours after parliament voted through tough new austerity measures aimed at saving the country from bankruptcy.

"This government has one to one-and-a-half months left," spokesperson Pantelis Kapsis told journalists. "We will finish up in March, and elections will be held in April."

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who formed a coalition government in November after the fall of George Papandreou's socialist administration, had indicated that he did not intend to serve the full two years remaining of parliament's mandate.

He said that his only aim was to negotiate the write down of part of Athens' debt and ensure that it qualified for a new European bailout of €130bn.

While he managed to push through the latest austerity measures the two main parties each saw more than 20 of their MPs rebel, while the extreme-right LAOS party quit the coalition before the vote.

"The government believes that yesterday's vote expressed our determination to go forward," Kapsis said.

"The Greek people want us to stay in the euro, and we will do whatever it takes to stay in the euro," he added.

Referring to EU demands led by Germany for written pledges by party leaders to carry out the reforms demanded, Kapsis said they "must be given by Wednesday".

"I imagine they will be in the form of a letter, he said.

Kapsis admitted that Wednesday's Eurogroup meeting to decide whether to release the new bailout "is going to be a difficult one".