Athens sets sights on elections after debt swap | News | DW | 10.03.2012
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Athens sets sights on elections after debt swap

Following the completion of the bond swap deal, Greek politicians are looking to upcoming general elections. The deal sliced more than 100 billion euros from Greece's deficit and cleared the way for fresh bailout funds.

Politicians in Athens were beginning to set their sights on the next general election and getting Greece on the road to economic recovery on Saturday, after the country averted the danger of an uncontrolled default.

A government spokesman told Greece's Skai television that the election might be held on April 29 at the earliest, but could be put off until sometime in May.

In the first concrete move signalling that an election campaign is about to get started, former prime minister George Papandreou stepped down as leader of his Socialist party on Saturday.

"The time has come for me to wage my battles from other ramparts," Papandreou told a party gathering in Athens. "I took tough decisions. They may have cost me politically, but they were worth it," he added.

Papandreou had resigned as prime minister in November 2011 after reaching a deal to avoid snap elections, and allow for the formation of a new government, led by former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos.

Debt swap deal completed

The government's job was to meet the European Union's austerity demands in exchange for Greece's second bailout since 2010, worth 130 billion euros ($170 billion). Greece met one of the conditions on Thursday, by completing a bond swap deal that shaved more than 100 billion euros off the nation's deficit. That allowed the EU to release the bailout so that Athens would be able to meet its next repayment deadline.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is widely expected to succeed Papandreou as Socialist leader when the party votes on March 18. However, his chances of becoming the country's next prime minister are seen as slim, as recent opinion polls give his Socialist party its lowest level of support in more than three decades.

sjt/pfd (Reuters, AFP)