Born in Athens in 1904, Zolotas studied economics at the University of Athens, and later studied in Leipzig and Paris. In 1928 he became Professor of Economics at Athens University, a post he held until 1968, when he resigned in protest at the military regime which had come to power in 1967. He was a member of the Board of Directors of UNRRA in 1946 and held senior posts in the International Monetary Fund and other international organistions 1946 and 1981.
When the elections of November 1989 failed to give a majority to either the PASOK party of Andreas Papandreou or the New Democracy party of Constantine Mitsotakis, Zolotas, then aged 85, agreed to become Prime Minister at head of a non-party administration until fresh elections could be held. He resigned when the election of April 1990 gave Mitsotakis a narrow majority.
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