George Papandreou

Prime Minister of Greece

(ANA-MPA, Kathimerini, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, FT, Guardian - 06/10/09; Reuters, Economist, ANA-MPA - 05/10/09; DPA, VOA - 04/10/09; http://www.papandreou.gr; http://www.ahistoryofgreece.com)
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George Papandreou was sworn in as prime minister of Greece on October 6th 2009, two days after his Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won a landslide victory in the country's early parliamentary elections after more than five years in opposition. Papandreou will also serve as foreign minister, a post he held from 1999 to 2004 in the cabinet of then Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Papandreou took the prime minister post from Costas Karamanlis, whose conservative New Democracy (ND) party suffered its worst electoral defeat ever, trailing more than ten percentage points behind the Socialists in the October 4th vote.

Papandreou is a member of one of Greece's top political families. His father, Andreas -- who founded PASOK -- and his grandfather and namesake George, both served several terms as Greece's prime minister.

Papandreou was born in St Paul, Minnesota, on June 16th 1952 and studied at schools in the United States, Sweden and Canada. He holds a Bachelors' degree in sociology from Amherst College, Massachusetts, (1975) and a Masters' degree in sociology from the London School of Economics (1977). Papandreou was a Fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University from 1992-1993.

He was first elected member of parliament in 1981 and a cabinet member in 1985, when he was appointed deputy minister of culture. Papandreou served twice as minister of education and religious affairs, and as deputy foreign minister, before being appointed foreign minister in Costas Simitis' government in 1999.

During his five-year tenure as foreign minister, Papandreou contributed to improving his country's relations with its neighbours, particularly Turkey and Albania, and made efforts towards ending Cyprus's more than 30-year-long division. He has been credited with helping Greece earn its bid for the 2004 Olympics.

Papandreou, who became involved with PASOK shortly after the its founding, served in various posts in the party's political and executive bodies until February 2004, when he was elected as party leader, following Simitis's resignation.

After two unsuccessful parliamentary elections, in March 2004 and September 2007, Papandreou finally led PASOK to victory in the October 4th 2009 snap poll. Taking 44% of the vote, the party won a comfortable 160 seats majority in the 300-member assembly, securing the needed support for reforms -- to improve an economy facing a budget deficit, already twice the EU limit and heading towards its first recession since 1993.

On October 5th, Greek President Karolos Papoulias asked Papandreou to form the country's new government. He was sworn in as prime minister by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece during a ceremony at the presidential mansion on October 6th.

Resolving the long-standing name dispute with Macedonia and helping the Cyprus peace talks move more swiftly are some of the foreign policy challenges the PASOK cabinet will face.

He is fluent in English and Swedish. Papandreou is married and has two children.

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