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After several days of operatic farce alternating with tragedy, the major non-leftwing parties agreed to form a government led by Lucas Papademos. So, who is he?

A cautious, soft-spoken technocrat who, as governor of the country’s central bank, helped bring Greece into the eurozone in January 2001, Lucas Papademos becomes prime minister of a transitional government with virtually the sole objective of keeping Greece within the single currency.

Born in Athens in 1947, Papademos attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1970, a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1972, and a PhD in economics in 1978. Taught economics at Columbia University from 1975 to 1984, and at the University of Athens from 1988 to 1993.
Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 1980, and joined the Bank of Greece (BoG) in 1985 as chief economist, rising to deputy governor in 1993 and taking over as governor in 1994.
Was widely condemned in the late 1990s for suggesting - rightly as it turned out - that Greece's stock market was a dangerous bubble.
During his tenure at the BoG, Greece switched from the drachma to the euro.
Left the BoG in 2002 to become vice-president of the European Central Bank (ECB) under president Jean-Claude Trichet until 2010.

Athens News

He's been advising the outgoing PM since on economic matters, which is not really reassuring given how badly the crisis has been handled, though I do like the fact that his first degree was Physics.

The new government will be sworn in tomorrow but the farce of the last few days has weakened it before its birth.

The power-sharing deal was struck after days of byzantine negotiations and embarrassing political theater which appeared to push Greece closer to default and a eurozone exit.

Marathon negotiations hit a deadlock on Wednesday night following differences between -- as well as within -- the Socialist and conservative parties. A large number of PASOK MPs, as well as ND deputies, on Wednesday were said to be vehemently opposed to the apparent choice of Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos -- a close associate of Papandreou and a party stalwart -- for interim premier.

snip

In a sign of the daunting tasks ahead, Greece's national statistics agency ELSTAT on Thursday reported that the unemployment rate increased to 18.4 percent in August from 16.5 percent in July and 12.2 percent a year earlier. The number of unemployed hit 907,953 in August, a 10.7 percent increase from the previous month.

Papandreou, who never recovered from his explosive decision to put the European rescue package to a referendum, has agreed to step down to make way for the new government. In a bow-out address on Wednesday, the PASOK leader said the apparent breakthrough had rescued the country's membership of the eurozone.

“I am proud that, despite the difficulties, we avoided bankruptcy and ensured the country stayed on its feet,” Papandreou said. “I want to wish the new prime minister success, I will support the new effort with all my strength,” he said.

Kathimerini English Edition

To get a taste of how the public and the press reacted to all this:

“Operetta at the Megaron” said Eleftherotypia, using a double entendre (megaron refers both to the presidential mansion and the Athens music hall).

“Operetta! The leaders, the gardener and poor Greece” exclaimed Ta Nea’s headline, in the form of an opera name. Act I: Papandreou decides to make Petsalnikos prime minister. Act II: Venizelos and MPs from both Pasok and ND react [negatively]. Act III: Samaras-Papandreou sip coffee and Karatzaferis puts on a show. Act IV: Petsalnikos’ candidacy is burned and Papademos is besieged [courted by Papandreou and Samaras] all night.

“There she is, there she is: the prime minister!” declared the headline of weekly Pontiki, featuring a photograph of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Many Greeks noted that the leaderless days were actually quite good. Several tax evaders were arrested, there were no strikes and the country ran more smoothly. Popular satirical show Radio Arvila poked relentless fun at the political establishment. If you speak Greek, you'll really enjoy their clips.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.

    by Athenian on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 09:06:28 AM PST

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Athenian, Montreal Progressive

    It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. ~ Helen Keller

    by Pam from Calif on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 09:24:11 AM PST

  •  I know nothing! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Athenian, Montreal Progressive

    So here I go.

    This is probably good news. Let's hope so.

    Goodnight everyone!

  •  Wishing everyone in Greece well (4+ / 0-)

    and hoping that the selection of the new PM is the beginning of the end of this hell hole.

    And I know about hell holes:  I live in Italy.  Trying to explain what has happened politically here in the last 5 days would require a book-length treatise.  

    Auguri

    •  I know. One of the reasons why everyone (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marie, SneakySnu, historys mysteries

      was so incensed it too so long to agree to the one person with a chance in hell of pulling Greece back from the brink was that everyone was looking apprehensively at Italy. If Italy has serious problems (and it seems it does) it has the potential to render Greece an afterthought.

      Cheers and good riddance to Berlusconi.

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.

      by Athenian on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 09:55:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  heard this guy's not going to be an improvement (5+ / 0-)

    I think it was Automatic Earth who was saying that this well-connected technocrat is a sign that the Greek government is basically going to bend over and let the ECB and the bond vigilantes have their way.  His job will be to protect the holders of Greek debt at the cost of the Greek people.

    Imagine if the CEO of Goldman Sachs or one of the Koch brothers got elected President here; the first thing he'd do is take a hatchet to the Executive branch, then pretty much refuse to sign any bill that Congress passed that didn't cut spending and/or raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

    Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

    by Visceral on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 10:03:27 AM PST

  •  This is my take on the situation in Greece. (6+ / 0-)

    The situation is dire and the corrupt political system is responsible for the economic crisis. The naming of Papademos is good for the Euro, but not necessarily for Greece. It does not represent a cure to the political system which cannot be corrected from within.

    Myth No 1: Ordinary Greeks benefitted from state largesse and corruption.

    Aside from the fact that only a minority of Greeks with connections to the ruling political class truly benefitted from the widespread corruption, largesse,  kickbacks and rampant tax evasion, the accusation reeks of racism in that it blames the whole nation for its plight.

    This might have been easier to accept if the Greek people had decided through democratic means to join the EU, to join the Euro or to allow their irresponsible governments to contract loans against the national interest, when they were never given any choice in the matter. As such, most of Greece's debt appears to be unenforceable odious debt

    Clearly it suited the richer European moneyed elites perfectly to allow the corrupt governments of Greece to borrow all the money needed for Greeks to participate in a common market where Greece sells sun and beaches in exchange for Mercedez Benzes and Volvos made in "competitive" Germany which is only made competitive by exploiting its own citizens for decades through rising wage inequality and rampant union busting.

    Oh! but weren't Greeks complicit in giving bribes to tax-evading state-protected doctors and public servants? Sure, maybe they should have denounced the practice and taken it to the court system.Oh! wait that doesn't work. What if you refuse to bribe? Well, if you are ready to wait for a long, long time and ultimately die waiting for a life-saving surgical operation in the land that invented the word γρηγορόσημο then good for you:

    1. γρηγορόσημο Type of bribe paid by a simple citizen to a corrupt official (mainly a public servant) in order to bypass red tape within the reasonable time period that would be normal were Greece not a huge hornest nest of corrupt chairbound centaurs and shameless blackmailers.

    Take the linkfor going rates for bribes (Reading ability in Greek needed).

    As for who put the corrupt blackmailers  in such positions, look no futher than the pseudo-democratic corrupt governments and their rousfetia.

    So should anyone feel like blaming ordinary Greeks for their plights, this is who you should be mad at:

    The 2,000 ministers, undersecretaries, members of parliament, prefects, mayors and presidents of government controlloled corporations who were in power since 1974. It's their political supporters, cowerkers, neighbours, relatives, aids, godchildren and friends who flooded the public sector in plum bribe-generating jobs.

    Papademos cannot address the political and economic crisis will be over unless:

    1) These 2000 people are imprisonned or exiled,
    2) Around 200,000 rousfeti-jobs are terminated, immediately creating a primary budget surpluss
    3) The odious debt is repudiated creating an overall budget surpluss
    4) The constitution is changed to create a 4th Greek republic on a sound, meritocratic basis
    5) Greece exits the Eurozone which is already inevitably imploding under its own naked capitalistic weighty greed. That Greece is in a position to be the catalyst for this, should make Greeks proud.

    If anyone thinks that this can be achieved from the inside by reform from within the existing political system, I have a bridge on the moon to sell to them. This can only happen if there is constant activism, protest, civil disobedience of the Tahrir Square kind.

    Just as civilization passed from Egypt to Europe through Greece, so can the Arab Spring pollinate the European Spring through Greece. I am not talking in a genaration's time. I am talking about spring 2012.

    There's nothing that can contain the rage of millions of young people that are left with no future.

  •  The EU and the IMF chose Greece's PM (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, katiec, SneakySnu

    And then daned to inform the Greek people.

    “If you think I can be bought for five thousand dollars, I'm offended." Rick Perry.

    by Paleo on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 10:13:59 AM PST

    •  Same thing's happening in Italy. (4+ / 0-)

      It's likely that Mario Monti, an economist with deep EU commission ties, will serve as PM in a technical government.  There are several parties on the right and left who have promised to vote against his installation, but the other options are much, much worse.  

      (lil' nitpick:  the verb is "deign" not "dane".)

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