Greece’s MPs Fail to Elect President in Second VoteSoutheast Europe | December 23, 2014, Tuesday // 16:28| views
Greek lawmakers failed to elect Stavros Dimas as the country’s President in the second of three rounds of voting in the Parliament in Athens, 23 December 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES
The second of three attempts by Greece's parliament to approve the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ nominee for president has failed, sending the country a step closer to early general elections.
Stavros Dimas, a former European Commissioner, received the approval of 168 lawmakers on Tuesday. He needed at least 200 votes, or majority of two-thirds, to get elected.
In the first round of voting held on December 17, Dimas who had been nominated by government coalition parties New Democracy and PASOK, was backed by 160 MPs. The two coalition partners together hold 155 of the 300 seats in Greece’s parliament.
The third and final vote is expected to be held on December 29. If Samaras fails to muster support from a narrower majority of 180 lawmakers to elect Dimas, parliament will be dissolved and early general elections will be called, most likely in January, or about a year and a half ahead of schedule.
Samaras will have to seek support from about a dozen of independent MPs as well as renegade deputies in two smaller parties to find the extra votes.
With snap elections looking increasingly likely, investors are concerned that the radical left Syriza party, which has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the bailout package agreed with Greece’s official lenders, could come to power.
Syriza’s popularity has increased over the past year due to its rejection of austerity measures introduced as condition for Athens to receive aid to cope with its debt crisis. Syriza has not nominated its own candidate for president as it is actively seeking early general elections.
“I hope in the final vote for president we will avert national peril,” Samaras said after Tuesday’s vote, adding that snap elections are dangerous for Greece.
In an effort to win support for Dimas’ nomination, Samaras has proposed to bring pro-European independents into his government and hold parliamentary elections by the end of 2015 if Dimas was elected.
According to opinion polls, most Greeks don’t want snap elections.
Samaras’ conservative New Democracy party is trailing Syriza in the latest opinion surveys. It is uncertain, however, whether the leftist party would be able to win outright majority in parliament.