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Greece: Snap elections called for May 6

Snap elections have been called for May 6 in Greece.

Greece snap elections called by prime minister may 6Enlarge
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos arrives for the cabinet meeting at the Greek Parliament in Athens on April 11, 2012. Papademos set the stage for early elections on May 6 by submitting his resignation to the country's president after heading a five-month debt rescue. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told his country on Wednesday that Greece would hold snap elections on May 6, according to Reuters.

Speaking in a televised address, Papademos said, "Greece is in the middle of a difficult path. The choices we make will not only determine which government will be formed after the election but Greece's course in decades to come."

The national election will be the first since Greece received an International Monetary Fund and Eurozone bailout two years ago, which involved the government agreeing to severe austerity measures in order to deal with Greek debt.

Papademos' announcement came after his meeting with President Karolos Papoulias during which he asked the president to dissolve the current parliament, according to CNN.

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Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, took power in November 2011 when Greece was on the brink of economic collapse and the Socialist government in crumbled. He told the current power-sharing administration which consists of Socialists, conservatives, liberals and right-wingers, "The main goals of our government were achieved," according to The Telegraph.

Papademos said, "We are obliged as a government to hand the baton to the government that will come from the next elections."

However, he was careful to warn that the elections should not be used to undermine agreements with the European Union over austerity measures and economic reforms that have faced widespread unpopularity and protest in Greece, said The Telegraph.

More on GlobalPost: Greek pensioner kills himself near parliament

Papademos clarified that dissolving the parliament does not mean dissolving the government, and he called for everyone to work together to make the significant decisions that would need to be made before May 6, according to CNN.

A poll on Monday from the group GPO gave the leading parties the following percentages of the vote: New Democracy with 18.2 percent and PASOK with 14.2 percent. In contrast, in October 2009, PASOK took 43.9 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections, reported CNN.

The elections will determine how the Greek parliament votes on measures such as the 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) worth of spending cuts to be implemented in 2013-2014.

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Tensions have been running high in Greece in reaction to the austerity measures, and last week a Greek pensioner shot himself near parliament, seemingly in protest of the slashing of pensions. The incident sparked further protests. According to the Associated Press, approximately 2,000 people attended the funeral. Here is raw video footage from the AP:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120411/greece-snap-elections-called-may-6