28 Aug 2015

Greece gets first female leader

12:12 pm on 28 August 2015

Greece's top Supreme Court judge, Vassiliki Thanou, has been appointed caretaker prime minister ahead of early elections next month.

Vassiliki Thanou

Vassiliki Thanou Photo: AFP

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos named Ms Thanou after efforts to form a coalition failed. Last week, Alex Tsipras resigned as prime minister to seek a new mandate for office.

Ms Thanou, 65, becomes Greece's first female prime minister.

Elections are expected to be scheduled for 20 or 27 September.

Ms Thanou's appointment ends a week of fruitless negotiations as opposition party leaders tried unsuccessfully to form a government.

Mr Tsipras stepped down as prime minister and called early elections after 25 of his MPs quit Syriza over the bailout he agreed with European creditors and formed the left-wing Popular Unity party.

Reduced support

In a statement live on television last Thursday, he said it was now up to the Greek people to give their verdict on whether to continue with his government's programme.

Mr Tsipras is expected to win the next election although it is unclear whether he will secure a majority government.

However, he has ruled out a coalition with any of the more centrist opposition parties: centre-right New Democracy, the socialist Pasok party or the small centrist The River (To Potami) party.

Earlier this week an opinion poll for Greece's Vergina TV suggested support for Mr Tsipras's Syriza party had declined to 24 percent, down from 34 percent in July.

New Democracy was in second with 22 percent, while the far-right Golden Dawn ranked third with 6 percent.

Popular Unity, which split from Syriza, was put on 4.5 percent.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras listens to speakers in Parliament on 23 July 2015.

Alexis Tsipras Photo: AFP

Panagiotis Lafazanis, who formed Popular Unity, was the last of three party leaders who were given the chance form a government in the past week.

He used the opportunity to air his anti-bailout message before handing back the mandate to the president on Thursday.

Varoufakis 'lost credibility'

Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis decided not to join Popular Unity despite his opposition to the €86bn eurozone bailout agreed by his successor Euclid Tsakalotos.

Speaking to Australia's ABC News on Wednesday, Mr Varoufakis said he would not be running for the Greek parliament in the September elections, as he no longer believed in what Syriza and Mr Tsipras were doing.

For his part, Mr Tsipras hit out at his former finance minister late on Wednesday, telling Alpha TV that he had realised in June that "Varoufakis was talking, but nobody paid any attention to him".

Negotiators in the crucial debt talks with the IMF and European Union lenders "had switched off, they didn't listen to what he was saying", he said.

"He didn't say anything bad but he had lost his credibility among his interlocutors."


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