ATHENS, Greece – A look at key dates in Greece's financial and political crisis.
Oct. 18, 2009 — George Papandreou's new Socialist government reveals that the budget deficit is set to rise to at least 12 percent of gross domestic product, double the previous government's estimate, because of earlier undisclosed debt. The shortfall eventually reached 15.6 percent of GDP, more than five times the EU limit.
Dec. 8, 2009 — Fitch downgrades Greece's credit rating. All three major agencies eventually downgrade Greece to junk status.
March 3, 2010 — Greece announces a major austerity plan — with many more to follow. It increases the sales tax and tariffs on cigarettes and alcohol, freezes pensions and curbs civil servants' pay.
April 23, 2010 — The prime minister asks for a rescue package from Greece's partners in the 17-member eurozone and the International Monetary Fund as Athens is unable to cope with rising borrowing costs.
May 2, 2010 — Eurozone finance ministers agree to rescue Greece with €110 billion in loans over three years. The money is paid quarterly and subject to debt inspections.
May 18, 2010 — Greece receives the first installment of its bailout loans, worth €14.5 billion, just in time to meet a crucial debt refinancing deadline.
April 23, 2011 — European Commission data shows the Greek budget deficit was higher than expected in 2009, requiring new austerity measures.
June 29, 2011 — Parliament passes a €28 billion austerity bill in the face of two days of violent protests during which some 300 protesters and police are injured. The package contains new, severe spending cuts and tax increases. The European Union had set passage of the bill as a precondition for releasing the next installment of bailout loans.
July 3, 2011 — European finance ministers agree to release the vital €8.7 billion installment of aid for Greece. Without the money, Greece would have defaulted on its massive debts within days. Although European officials agree that Greece will need more help on top of its first bailout, they postpone a decision on a second one.
Oct. 2, 2011 — Greece announces it will not meet its 2011 and 2012 deficit targets. It blames a deeper recession than forecast due to the impact of austerity measures.
Oct. 27, 2011 — European leaders reach a deal with Greek bondholders that would see the private investors take a 50 percent cut in the face value of their bonds. The leaders also agree in principle to give Greece a new €130 billion bailout package.
Nov. 4, 2011 — Papandreou survives a crucial vote of confidence in parliament, but a group of senior Socialists call for a government of national unity to be formed quickly under a new leader.
Nov. 5, 2011 — The leaders of Greece's two largest political parties decide to form a government of national unity to start implementing austerity measures demanded in exchange for access to the country's second, €130 billion bailout. They agree to hold national elections once those measures are taken.
Nov. 11, 2011 — Lucas Papademos, a former central banker, is sworn in as prime minister of a government supported by the Socialists and two conservative parties.
Nov. 16, 2011 — Papademos wins a confidence vote in parliament. He holds a first meeting with officials from the International Institute of Finance Managing Director, which represents Greece's private-sector bondholders.
Jan. 28, 2012 — Greece reaches a tentative deal to have its bondholders take an even larger cut in their debt holdings. That paves the way for it to receive the much-needed €130 billion bailout.
Feb. 21, 2012 — Eurozone leaders agree to release the second, €130 billion bailout package for Greece to save the country from a potentially disastrous default in March. The package depends on Greece's private sector bondholders finalizing the debt writedown deal.
March 9, 2012 — Greece reaches the landmark debt restructuring deal with private creditors, avoiding imminent default. The writeoff of €105 billion in debt is the biggest in history.
May 6, 2012 — Greece holds early general elections. The center-right New Democracy party wins, but with barely 19 percent of the vote, as struggling Greeks support anti-bailout parties. The left-wing Syriza wins a surprise second place, while the extreme right Golden Dawn sweeps into parliament for the first time.
May 15, 2012 — Talks to form a government collapse. New elections are called.
May 16, 2012 — A caretaker government is sworn in, with the sole mandate of taking the country into the new elections.
June 17, 2012 — Greece to hold a second general election amid mounting concern the country could eventually exit the eurozone.