Top judge appointed caretaker PM

The president of the Council of State, Panayiotis Pikrammenos, was Thursday appointed to lead a caretaker government to take the country to fresh elections.

During his visit to President Karolos Papoulias, who gave him the mandate to form a government, the 67-year-old described his task as ?a difficult burden? but thanked the president for entrusting him with it. ?Our country is experiencing difficult times. We must safeguard its standing and its smooth transition to a new government,? he said. The eminent judge allowed himself some levity, noting that the media had decided that his name, meaning?embittered,? meant he was well suited for his role. Later Pikrammenos was sworn in at the Presidential Palace before meeting outgoing Premier Lucas Papademos for the handover.

With Pikrammenos?s cabinet to be sworn in at 10 a.m., rumors were flying last night about who it would comprise.

Also Thursday, at 11 a.m., the MPs elected to Parliament in the May 6 polls are to be sworn in. They will not be MPs for long as, after the appointment of a parliament speaker on Friday, the House will be dissolved and elections called. Most MPs are expected to be re-elected despite a change in the voting procedure. In previous elections voters could elect specific MPs from a party but in the June polls the candidates will be on a fixed party list and will be elected based on the share of the vote that their party gets in their constituency.