PM to visit President and call snap polls

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told his Cabinet on Wednesday afternoon that his interim government had achieved its goal of pushing through economic reforms demanded by foreign creditors and that he would seek the approval of President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve Parliament and call early elections for May 6. Papademos was to visit Papoulias at 5 p.m. on Wednesday following the Cabinet meeting during which he took stock of his government's five months in power and highlighted the need to seek «a fresh popular mandate» for the continuation of the reform drive. The subject of the recapitalization of Greek banks and pension funds was also broached during the meeting, according to state television channel Net. It was widely anticipated that May 6 would be the date for snap polls but government officials had avoided confirming it before all pending legislation promised to foreign creditors had been voted through Parliament. A final bill relating to social security provisions was approved late on Tuesday, paving the way for Papademos to set the ball rolling for elections -- a contest expected to be tighter and fiercer than any in recent memory. With the election date all but finalized, the leaders of Greece's political parties ratcheted up their campaigning.

The leader of socialist PASOK Evangelos Venizelos addressed his party's national council while the heads of other parties were reportedly in close consultation with their aides on issues of strategy. According to sources, it had been clear to Papademos that his short-term coalition could not hold together much longer as cooperation between PASOK and New Democracy cabinet members had deteriorated in the last couple of weeks as both parties began to look toward the elections. The May 6 election date gives the parties the minimum time of 25 days that the constitution allows for them to prepare for polling day.

A cross-party electoral committee is due to meet on Tuesday to allocate TV airtime to the groups. The parties will have to name their candidates by April 20 and submit their lists to the Supreme Court by April 25. April 20 will also be the last day on which opinion polls can be published in Greece. 

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