ATHENS – Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said he won’t back New Democracy Vice-President Stavros Dimas for Greek President in the next two rounds of voting.
Kammenos, whose marginal party has only 12 votes in the 300-member Parliament stood his ground after meeting with former Prime Minister and one-time New Democracy leader Constantinos Mitsotakis on Dec. 18, a day after lawmakers rejected Dimas in a first round of balloting.
Dimas was put forth as the candidate by Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner the PASOK Socialists of Evangelos Venizelos in a bid to keep the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) from blocking election of a President and force early national elections with polls showing the Leftists in the lead.
Dimas got 160 votes, all 155 from the ruling parties and five from Independent MPS but needed 200 in the first, and a second set for Dec. 22, or 180 in a third and final round on Dec. 29 or national elections will be called.
His comments came following a meeting with former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis on Thursday, a day after a first round of voting in Parliament gave the government’s candidate 160 votes, out of the 200 needed for his election in the first round.
“We will not give Samaras and Venizelos the kiss of life,” noted Kammenos, who said general elections were now a “one-way street.”
Kammenos, who left New Democracy to form ANEL, said that Mitsotakis, whose son Kyriakos serves as Administrative Reform Minister in Samaras’ government, believes that some kind of consensus among local political forces should be reached before a new general election is held despite the bitter differences between them, chiefly over the austerity measures Samaras has imposed on orders of international lenders.
He also noted that he has held regular meetings with Mitsotakis since 1991. ANEL, despite its opposition to austerity, has floundered and now languishes near the bottom of polls with some showing it wouldn’t need the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament in the next elections and some of its lawmakers said they may support Dimas in the next rounds.