Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has submitted his resignation, seeking to pave the way for May 6 snap elections. The unelected economist has led a so-called technocrat emergency government in Greece since late last year.
Greek voters will go to the polls next month for the first time since October 2009, after Prime Minister Lucas Papademos submitted his resignation as the country's president.
Technocrat leader Papademos, who was not elected, stepped in late last year after the November 9 resignation of his Socialist predecessor George Papandreou.
The Greek prime minister asked president Carolos Papoulias to set a May 6 date for parliamentary elections, with a view to establishing a new government by May 17. He later told his cabinet that the transitional government had achieved its "main goals," but that a long-term recovery required a new government with a public mandate for reforms.
"These challenges constitute a national issue that the new government must handle. I recommend that a proposal be made to the president to dissolve parliament and hold elections on May 6," state television NET quoted him as telling ministers.
The former European Central Bank vice president took over as head of a coalition government supported by the two biggest Greek parties, the conservative New Democracy party and the Socialists.
Papademos' government was entrusted with arranging a large-scale private sector bond-swap on existing Greek debt and implementing cutbacks and reforms demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a second package of emergency loans for the stricken Greek government.
As well as its national debt problems, the Greek economy has been in recession for the past four years, with another year of negative growth all but guaranteed in 2012.
Opinion polls currently suggest that no single party will secure enough support to rule independently; both the New Democracy and Socialist parties have lost ground owing to their support for unpopular austerity measures.
msh/sej (AFP, Reuters)