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Philippos Sachinidis replaces Evangelos Venizelos as Greece prepares for elections


Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos (L) shakes hands with outgoing Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos during their meeting at the Maximou Mansion in Athens, on March 19, 2012. Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Monday that he is resigning his government job after being elected on Sunday to head the Socialist party Pasok.



Greece's Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis took over the top finance job on Wednesday as former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos prepared to lead the Socialist party in upcoming elections, Reuters reported.

The conservative New Democracy party, which is part of the coalition government with the Socialist party, called for elections to be held on April 29 or May 6. "We must go to elections immediately, for the sake of consistency and for the sake of democracy," said Yannis Michelakis, the party's spokesman, according to Reuters.

"Following a decision by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Philippos Sachinidis is appointed finance minister," said the prime minister's office, according to the AFP.

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Venizelos stepped down on Monday after being chosen to lead the PASOK party in early elections, to replace the interim administration which is led by Papademos. Sachinidis was among the ministry officials overseeing the budget and in charge of the austerity measures implemented in Greece in exchange for loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, said the AFP.

Figures released on Wednesday indicated that Greece is already beating some of its deficit-reduction targets, according to the Associated Press. Greece's central budget deficit had shrunk by more than half for the first two months of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. The budget deficit was €495 million ($655 million) in the first two months, significantly lower than the target set out in the budget of €879 million.

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Greece approved a new €130 billion loan deal on Tuesday, after Sachinidis said, "There is no other solution," according to The New York Times. The loan deal was approved by 213 votes out of 300, with support mainly from the Socialist and conservative parties in the coalition government.

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