Greece's PM calls snap election
Mr Karamanlis said he wanted a "fresh political mandate"
BBC, 2 September 2009
Greece's PM Costas Karamanlis has called a snap general election, although no date has yet been set.
"I am seeking a fresh political mandate," Mr Karamanlis said on TV.
There had been speculation that the conservative prime minister would go to the polls early given the wafer-thin majority he has in parliament.
The government has been hit by a number of financial scandals and recent destructive wildfires have also hit its popularity.
Mr Karamanlis said in his address: "We have to clarify the political landscape and proceed with a series of essential measures to emerge from the downturn.
"The year 2010 will be a difficult and decisive one, and so the Greek people must choose a government that can lead the country out of this crisis," he said.
There has been social unrest since police shot a teenager last December
Mr Karamanlis will meet President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday after which the date of the election is likely to be announced. It is expected to be 4 October.
The conservative New Democracy party trailed the Socialists by six points in two recent opinion polls and the snap election had been opposed by some conservative MPs.
The conservatives have 151 seats in the 300-member parliament.
A senior member of the party, Yiannis Manolis, resigned his seat on Monday, saying he was disappointed with the government's performance.
His seat would have been taken by another conservative without the need for a new election.
The government has been hit by a series of corruption scandals.
Aristotle Pavlides, a former minister, was alleged to have solicited bribes in return for granting shipping contracts, although he denied any wrongdoing.
Last October two ministers resigned after it emerged that state land was given to a monastery on Mount Athos, in return for much less valuable land.
Previously, a labour minister quit after employing uninsured immigrants, and his predecessor was forced out amid a bond-trading scandal.
Greece has also been dogged by social unrest since police shot a teenager dead last December.
The death sparked the country's worst riots in decades, leading to clashes between police and protesters in the weeks that followed.
Shortly before Mr Karamanlis announced the election on Wednesday, a bomb went off outside the Athens stock exchange, slightly injuring a female passer-by and damaging the building.
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the blasts may be the work of the extremist group, Revolutionary Struggle.