ATHENS – Hopes by Greece’s ruling parties to have their man named the next Greek President and thwart early elections took a hit when Independent Greeks Independent (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said he would oppose any coalition candidate.
Kammenos, a former member of the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, has 13 votes in the 300-member Parliament.
Although he leads a Rightist party, he jumped on the bandwagon with the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) which first said it would try to block the next President in a bid to force elections before the next scheduled polls in 2016.
Both ANEL and SYRIZA are opposed to the austerity measures that came attached to two bailouts from international lenders and have been sniping at Samaras for two years.
It takes 180 votes to elect a President in February, 2015 to replace Karolos Papoulias but New Democracy has only 126 and its coalition partner the PASOK Socialists has 28 for a combined total of 154.
There had been disputed reports the coalition would tab Democratic Left (DIMAR) chief Fotis Kouvelis as its choice to stymie SYRIZA but he is under fire in his own party, which has fallen to the bottom of the heap after joining the coalition two years ago and backing austerity before pulling out last year.
Speaking at a press conference at the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Kammenos said the party was seeking elections as well, which Samaras said would be “political suicide” for Greece and derail its looming comeback from a crushing economic crisis largely caused by the ruling parties wild overspending for generations of alternating administrations.
“Any coalition deputies who have come to realize what they have voted for and have now decided to bring the government down, should do so tonight,” said Kammenos, in reference to a Parliamentary vote regarding amendments on the single property tax, ENFIA, which has raised complaints within coalition ranks.