It's Papademos for Greek PM
Greece, a messy stew of political intrigue and corruption in the best of times, came close over the last few days to a meltdown.
Of course, these are not the best of days for Greece but the meltdown was avoided when the political parties, who had been at each other's throats while trying to fashion a coalition government, finally settled on the man for prime minister they had favored in the first place.
Lucas Papademos, a world renowned economist and former vice president of the European Central Bank, was chosen to lead the "government of national salvation" until elections are held next year.
Former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos will head Greece's new crisis coalition, the president's office said on Thursday, ending suspense over who will try to save the country from default, bankruptcy and an exit from the euro zone.
The coalition will be sworn in at 1200 GMT on Friday, a presidential official said after Papademos struck a deal on the national unity government with outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and the opposition leader.
"The Greek economy is facing huge problems despite the efforts undertaken," Papademos said as he emerged from the talks brokered by President Karolos Papoulias.
"The choices we make will be decisive for the Greek people. The path will not be easy but I am convinced the problems will be resolved faster and at a smaller cost if there is unity, understanding and prudence."
Papademos, a respected figure in European capitals and on financial markets, said the coalition had the specific task of implementing a 130-billion-euro ($177 billion) bailout deal with the euro zone before calling an early election.
He cuts a grey and uncharismatic figure in the colorful and chaotic world of Greek politics, but also has a reputation for being calm at a time when the nation is clamoring for stability.
"He's a clear policy thinker. He was never involved in politics. He knows what needs to be done," said Thanos Papasavvas, head of currency management at Investec Asset Management in London.
Even with the hangman's noose dangling in front of them, the parties stubbornly refused to compromise. A deal to make the speaker of parliament prime minister fell through almost immediately when angry New Democracy party members had a fit over the partisan choice. Papademos, an original front runner, fell out of favor when he demanded some guarantees that parliament would deal with the austerity measures that Greece must implement to get EU cash.
But in the end, they came back to him as the only viable candidate.
Papademos's first task will be to instill some confidence in the Greek people and foreign investors. There is a quiet run on Greek banks happening at the moment, and with their credit shot, the new prime minister must find a way to revitalize the economy.
Easier said than done.