The Challenges for Greece's Next Prime Minister

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Whether it's front-runner Lucas Papademos or another leading contender, the next prime minister of Greece's soon-to-be-formed unity government will have a mountain of problems to tackle starting on day one. The European Union has demanded that by tonight Greece explain how a new unity government will make the necessary steps to receive its $180 billion emergency bailout. On late Sunday night, prime minister George Papandreou forged an agreement with conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras on a rough outline for Greece's future. As it stands, Lucas Papademos, a former deputy president of the European Central Bank, is the most likely successor to Papandreou, according to reports. But he may want to think twice about the new job. Here's what would lie in store for him:

Unite Greece To say that bringing the country together under a unity government will be difficult is an understatement, emphasize, Rachel Donadio and Niki Kistantonis at The New York Times. "Greece has rarely had unity governments. A civil war between right and left in the late 1940s left its political culture deeply divided, and it remains so nearly 40 years after the fall of a military dictatorship." In such a situation, the major political parties would share power for a number of months until the debt deal is secured. They speak with Athanassios Papandropoulos, economist for the Greek newspaper Estia. “I don’t think it will work,” he said. “It will last three months, then we’ll have elections, and then we’ll have the same problems all over again.”

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Squeeze out new tax revenue The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum reports that "The Greek Parliament will need to approve the terms of the Oct. 27 bailout agreement, which would write off $138 billion in debt held by Greece’s private creditors and commit an additional $180 billion to help the country meet its remaining commitments." That's going to involve wringing "more tax revenue from citizens devastated by wage cuts and unemployment, sell state-owned assets at a time when few investors are willing to take risks, and cut the country’s civil service rolls by many thousands. Those steps were already difficult. Now they’re even more so."

The 7-point plan The loose agreement put in place late last night will have to be implemented by Greece's next prime minister, report The Wall Street Journal's Costas Paris and Alkman Granitsas. "The government released a road map of seven actions that need to be secured in the coming weeks. Under this plan, Greece's state budget for 2012 must be submitted to parliament by 2012 and the International Monetary Fund must ratify the payment of a sixth aid tranche on Nov. 21, while payments for the recapitalization of Greece's banks and other aid under the new loan agreement should kick in from early January to keep the country afloat."

Getting the banks on board The next prime minister must also complete "the legal and financial terms of private sector involvement in the Greek rescue, in which banks holding Greek debt agree to voluntarily forgive much of its face value, to avoid a default," reports The Times.

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