Greek court official appointed head of interim government

A senior judge was sworn in Wednesday to head Greece’s caretaker government for a month as it lurches through a political crisis that threatens its membership in the 17-nation eurozone. The political uncertainty is worrying Greece’s international creditors as well as Greeks themselves, who have withdrawn hundreds of millions of euros from banks since the May 6 election.

ATHENS — A senior judge was sworn in Wednesday to head Greece’s caretaker government for a month as it lurches through a political crisis that threatens its membership in the 17-nation eurozone.

The political uncertainty is worrying Greece’s international creditors as well as Greeks themselves, who have withdrawn hundreds of millions of euros from banks since the May 6 election.

Council of State head Panagiotis Pikrammenos, 67, was appointed earlier Wednesday to head a government that will lack the mandate to make any binding commitments until a new election, which is expected June 17.

About C700 million ($898 million) in deposits have left Greek banks since May 7, the day after the election, President Karolos Papoulias told party leaders after being briefed by central bank governor George Provopoulos.

“The situation in the banks is very difficult,” Papoulias said according to a transcript of the meeting’s minutes released Tuesday night. “Mr. Provopoulos told me that of course there is no panic, but there is great fear which could turn into panic.”

There were no queues at banks in Athens after the May 6 election, but Greeks have been gradually withdrawing their savings over the past two years as the country’s financial crisis deepened, either sending the money abroad or keeping it in their homes.

“I would expect the population to quietly be doing what it has been doing in the last days. In other words, some of the Greek citizens are afraid and are taking a portion of the money, but I’m not expecting a bank run,” said Theodore Krintas, managing director of Attica Wealth Management.

The May 6 election saw a massive rise in popularity for parties that advocate pulling out of Greece’s commitments to its international bailout deal, under which it agreed to strict austerity measures in return for billions of euros in rescue loans. The spending cuts and tax hikes have left the country mired in the fifth year of a deep recession and sent unemployment soaring to above 21 per cent, and many argue the country cannot hope for recovery if they stick to the deal.

“I want to believe that next time the people will express their opposition to the bailout agreement even more adamantly so that a strong government will be formed without the current parties,” civil servant Christina Papadopoulou said of the repeat ballot.

Negotiations to agree on a coalition government collapsed Tuesday, nine days after voters furious with the handling of the country’s financial crisis deserted the two formerly dominant parties in favour of smaller anti-bailout groups. The election left no party with enough votes for a majority in parliament.

Greece is being kept afloat by bailout loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. It is unclear how the June election will affect the continued disbursement of the loan installments.

“It is our wish, and I think the wish of all Greece’s European partners, that a Greek government which is capable of acting emerge as soon as possible from these elections,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin.

The spokesman would not comment on the bailout money due Greece at the end of June.

The instability has led to questions about Greece’s prospects of remaining in the euro.

“If the country’s budgetary commitments are not honoured, there needs to be appropriate revisions, which means either supplementary financing and additional time, or mechanisms for an exit, which in this case must be orderly,” IMF head Christine Lagarde said on France 24 television.

Greece leaving the euro “is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks, but it is part of the options that we must technically consider.”

Greece now faces of month of inertia, with a government hamstrung by party leaders’ insistence that it can take no binding decisions.

Alexis Tsipras, head of the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, which came a surprise second in the May 6 election after campaigning on an anti-bailout platform, said he had requested “that the caretaker government should not implement measures that would involve further cuts in salaries, pensions and public spending, that would dismantle labour relations or allow privatizations. ”

Tsipras said he also asked for a freeze on every ongoing sale of state property.

The Greek privatization fund later said it had already decided to delay until after the election any decisions on the country’s key commitment to sell off some state assets. Under its international bailout agreements, Greece must raise C19 billion ($24.2 billion) through privatizations by 2015 — and has so far raised about C1.5 billion.

Tsipras is the front runner for the next election. Recent opinion polls have shown him as likely to come first in the June vote, though with nowhere near enough votes to form a government on his own.

The two mainstream parties, conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK, have warned that anti-bailout policies will lead Greece out of the euro.

“Two courses lie ahead of the Greek people: Either to change everything in Greece — with changes which can be carried out in a Europe that is also changing — or to experience the terror of an exit from the euro, the terror of isolation outside Europe and the collapse of all we have built so far,” said New Democracy head Antonis Samaras.

A win by Tsipras would put him in a dominant position to make a coalition deal with other anti-bailout parties.

“This will make reaching an agreement between the next government and Greece’s international creditors extremely difficult, raising the risk of a Greek exit from the euro and sovereign debt default,” said Robert O’Daly, Senior Economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “The consequences of this would be dire for Greece and probably the rest of the euro area.”

Just Posted

Ride to Conquer Cancer cancels but Red Deerian keeps going

Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer was cancelled due to smoke

Record-breaking year in Red Deer for smoke

Expect more smoke in Red Deer Wednesday

Mustard Seed prepares people for workforce

Employment Readiness Fair to be held August 28

Update: Bomb squad investigates, destroys suspicious package in Red Deer

North police station was closed as they investigated Tuesday afternoon

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Liberals unveil poverty plan with lofty goals, but no new spending programs

OTTAWA — The minister in charge of Canada’s latest national plan to… Continue reading

Case of truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash adjourned until October

MELFORT, Sask. — The case of a Calgary truck driver charged in… Continue reading

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month