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Greece Appoints Senior Judge as Caretaker Prime Minister

Caretaker prime minister Greece
The Greek President appoints Ioannis Sarmas as caretaker PM. Credit: AMNA

The President of Greece Katerina Sakallaropoulou appointed Ioannis Sarmas a senior judge as caretaker prime minister until new elections take place probably on June 25.

Sarmas, president of the Court of Audit, was appointed after the meeting with five major political parties’ leaders in parliament, which confirmed that there was no possibility for a coalition government following Sunday’s election.

Faced with “the impossibility of forming a government” just three days after national elections “the solution, according to the Constitution is the formation of an interim government,” said Sakellaropoulou during a meeting with Sarmas.

Sarmas, 66, thanked the president and stated, “It is a constitutional obligation to assume the post and my duty as a citizen.” Born on the Greek island of Kos, Sarmas followed a career in the courts after studying law in Athens and Paris, as well as completing a doctorate.

Caretaker prime minister to oversee new election campaign

With all the votes counted on Monday, the New Democracy party won 40.79% – twice the main opposition SYRIZA’s 20.07%. Socialist PASOK came in third at 11.46%, followed by Greek Communist Party with 7.23%. The far-right, populist Greek Solution party came in fifth with 4.45%.

Outgoing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called for a fresh election as early as June 25 after securing his party’s biggest electoral triumph in years, but five seats short of being able to produce a single-party government.

“I consider it is my duty to get past the hurdle of simple proportional representation as quickly as possible, and I am willing to return the exploratory mandate to you this afternoon so that we can hold elections, possibly on June 25th,” Mitsotakis said during his meeting on Monday with Sakellaropoulou.

On Tuesday, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition party SYRIZA, and Nikos Androulakis, leader of the social-democratic party PASOK turned down the mandates, stressing the inability to form a coalition government.

Tsipras said he takes “full responsibility” for the defeat, which he called a “painful shock” while vowing to prevent the formation of a right-wing government in the next round.

“I am morally bound to stand and fight,” he said while he apologized “to those he had let down.”

A repetition of Sunday’s result would deliver an “all-powerful and uncontrollable, hegemonic and arrogant government,” he noted.

It was the Greek conservatives’ best result since 2007, crediting the party with bringing economic stability back to a nation once known as an EU laggard.

Under a new electoral law that comes into play in the next ballot, the winner can obtain a bonus of up to 50 seats. Based on Sunday’s showing and that calculation, New Democracy is virtually assured of a victory.

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