Greece left headless as politicians fight

GREECE was left without a government for a fourth day running last night after squabbling politicians failed to announce a successor to fill the vacuum left by Prime Minister George Papandreou, who resigned yesterday.

The failure of the country’s political elite to strike an agreement leaves two of the Eurozone’s crisis-hit countries without governments, as Italy’s MPs engaged in similarly unproductive horse-trading.

Without a new government, Greece will run out of money in the next three weeks if its international creditors stick to promises not to pay out its next €8bn (£6.8bn) instalment of bailout cash. Papandreou announced to the nation that he was leaving office to hand over to a coalition government that would unite to implement the austerity measures that are a condition of Greece’s rescue package.

Papandreou said: “Today, despite our differences -- political and social differences do exist -- we have put aside our fruitless conflict and disagreement.”

But hours after he had departed, no new prime minister had been named.

Reports suggested that Lucas Papademos, a former ECB economist, had struck a deal with Papandreou to take over so long as the two main parties signed up to bailout conditions.

But others claimed the two main parties had agreed on house speaker Karolos Papoulias.

Talks between the main socialist PASOK‚Äąparty and opposition conservative New Democracy party to install Papoulias broke down, however.

Negotiations are due to reconvene this morning for a fourth day. The parties have at least agreed that elections will be held on 19 February.