Greece calls early general election

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Greece is to hold an early general election on May 6.

Prime minister Lucas Papademos confirmed that he would formally request the election from President Karolos Papoulias.

Mr Papademos, a 64-year-old former vice president of the European Central Bank, was appointed prime minister in November and spent the next five months pushing through harsh austerity measures in order to secure a vital international bailout and a major debt relief deal with banks.

His government was backed by the majority Socialists and their main rivals, the conservative New Democracy party.

“The main goals of our government were achieved,” Mr Papademos told a Cabinet meeting.

The conservative New Democracy party, led by former foreign minister Antonis Samaras, is leading in the opinion polls. However, the polls suggest it will not receive enough votes to form a government and would have to seek another coalition with the Socialists.