Greece appoints Ioannis Sarmas interim prime minister

Greece appoints Ioannis Sarmas interim prime minister

Greece's president appointed an interim prime minister on Wednesday to form a government that will take the country back to elections on June 25.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' New Democracy party won with 40.1% last Sunday, but fell short of an outright majority. The other two parties also refused to form a coalition, calling for a second vote on June 25.

Mitsotakis believes a second vote, which gives the ruling party bonus seats, will give New Democracy the majority it needs to govern alone. Opposition parties also hope that a second vote will increase their numbers in the election.

On Wednesday, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou invited the leaders of all parties whose vote share crossed the 3% threshold to discuss the steps forward. The invitation was procedural and the brief talks did not produce a coalition government.

Under Greece's constitution, if coalition talks fail, the president appoints an interim prime minister to lead the country to a repeat vote.

Sakellaropoulou appointed Ioannis Sarmas, a senior judicial official who is president of the Hellenic Court of Audit, one of the country's three highest courts, to the position.

"It is a constitutional obligation and at the same time my duty as a citizen to accept it", said Sarmas Sakellaropoulou.

Under Greece's electoral system, the winner of a second vote after the first inconclusive election can receive up to 50 bonus seats for every point he wins above 25%.

To benefit from the bonus seats, New Democracy must remain the largest party, but that seems likely as its closest rival, SYRIZA, secured just a fifth of the vote on May 21. If he secures 40% of the votes again or even less. less, there will most likely be a clear majority.

The total number of seats New Democracy will secure depends on how many other parties will enter parliament. The new parliament, which emerged from the May 21 election, will convene next Sunday and be dissolved a day later before the interim government takes over.