By Ria Novosti
Greece’s two major political parties, who have earlier agreed to set up a coalition government, announced that early elections could be tentatively scheduled for February 19, 2012, the Greek finance ministry said.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to resign late on Friday, paving the way for a coalition government of his center-left PASOK party and the center-right opposition New Democracy party.
The new prime minister’s candidacy is yet to be agreed, but Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is also the country’s finance minister and chief negotiator with the troika of international lenders, will keep his post.
Greek media named three people as possible candidates to succeed Papandreou, all of them served as the country’s representatives in the European Union.
According to media reports, the possible successors are former Vice President of the European Central Bank Lukas Papademos, European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros and former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
The name of the new premier is expected to be announced later on Monday.
Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras met late on Sunday for talks on the future coalition government. They announced in a statement early on Monday that George Papandreou would resign as Greek premier and “immediate” elections will be held.
First consultations also showed that the two major Greek parties agree on measures needed to implement the bailout agreement with Europe.
International pressure and a looming collapse of his government forced Papandreou on Thursday to abandon his plans to hold the referendum on the new 130-billion-euro ($179 billion) rescue package for Greece, which was approved by euro zone leaders on October 26.
European leaders have earlier threatened to expel Greece from the euro zone if the new bailout package, which requires the Greek government to implement new tough austerity measures, is rejected in the popular vote. Greek media even cited government sources as saying that the country may be expelled from the euro zone if it fails to agree on the coalition government.
Without loans from EU and IMF lenders, which have been frozen over political uncertainty, Greece may default on its 360-billion-euro ($495-billion) debt in the coming weeks.