After his ill-conceived eleventh-hour referendum idea fell through last week, the thread from which Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was dangling effectively snapped. By Monday, it was apparent that Papandreou was ready to accept defeat, as he met the day before with his main opponent to work out details on a power-sharing plan to ease the prime minister’s transition out of office while the government works on meeting the European Union’s financial aid requirements and elect his replacement.

— KA

The New York Times:

The new unity government, in which the major parties would share power, is widely expected to be led by a nonpolitician and to govern for several months, long enough to carry out the debt deal and pass a budget for 2011. The name of the new prime minister and the composition of the new cabinet were not expected to be announced until Monday, when the leaders will meet again, according to a statement Sunday night by the Greek president, Karolos Papoulias, who moderated the talks on Sunday.

In a statement early Monday morning, the Greek Finance Ministry said that delegations from the Socialist Party and New Democracy met on Sunday “to discuss the time frame of the actions” to implement the debt deal, and added that the two parties regarded Feb. 19 as “the most appropriate date for elections.”

In reaching the agreement, Mr. Papandreou agreed to meet Mr. Samaras’s demand that he step down as prime minister, while Mr. Samaras agreed to back the debt deal and a seven-point plan of priorities proposed by Mr. Papandreou that would essentially commit the new government to the terms of the debt deal.

Mr. Samaras is not expected to play a role in the unity government, but would be New Democracy’s candidate for prime minister in the general election.

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