Athens: Former European Central Bank (ECB) vice-president Lucas Papademos will head Greece’s new crisis coalition, the President’s office said on Thursday, charged with saving the country from default, bankruptcy and an exit from the euro zone.

Lucas Papademos is being hailed as the “new Prime Minister-in-waiting. Photo: Bloomberg

Papademos, a respected figure in European capitals and on financial markets, will lead a national unity government that must sign up to a €130 billion bailout deal with the euro zone before calling an early election.

He cuts a grey and uncharismatic figure in the colourful and chaotic world of Greek politics, but also has a reputation for being calm at a time when the nation is clamouring for some kind of 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.

In a sign of the daunting problems he will face, the statistics service ELSTAT reported that unemployment jumped to a record high of 18.4% in August - at the height of the tourism season when the rate traditionally falls - from 16.5% in July.

The appointment of Papademos followed four days of sometimes chaotic talks led by outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras.

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