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ATHEN — Lawmakers in Greece are to vote again on the country’s new President, in an attempt to break an impasse that could bring down the conservative government of Prime Minister and New Democracy Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists.

The vote in parliament scheduled for Dec. 23 follows a ballot last week, when the government failed to gain enough support for its candidate, former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, the New Democracy Vice-President.

The government needs to attract opposition support for Dimas to get elected, and at the weekend offered to set a timetable for an early general election before the end of 2015.

He got only 160 of the 300 votes in Parliament in a first round on Dec. 17. It takes 200 votes in the first two rounds of balloting to elect a Greek President, and 180 in a third, which would be held on Dec. 29 if needed.

If that fails, national elections will be scheduled in January or February with polls showing the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leading.

With his party leading in surveys, the Leftist leader, Alexis Tsipras is trying to thwart the election of Dimas and is being backed so far by most Independent lawmakers and the government’s rival parties, chiefly the Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader, former New Democracy member Panos Kammenos.

The ANEL leader had claimed that a government intermediary had offered a bribe to one of his lawmakers, former TV actor Pavlos Haikalis, but a prosecutor threw out the charges.

The government is reeling, its popularity undercut after imposing harsh austerity measures demanded by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for economy bailouts of 240 billion euros ($306 billion) that began in 2010.

Tsipras has been demanding snap polls for months but Samaras argued he was leading Greece to a recovery, although stalled negotiations with the Troika over undone reforms and a how to close a hole in the 2015 budget of as much as three billion euros forced him to give up plans for an early exit from the memorandum he signed agreeing to big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.

Tsipras said if he comes to power he would seek to revise the terms of the bailouts or walk away from the debt, which could leave the country broke, forced out of the Eurozone and unable to borrow from the markets.

He has since begun to backpedal and said he would not act unilaterally but the commotion over the early exit plan and the Presidential election as roiled the markets and hurt the government’s stability and credibility.

 

 

The post Round Two: Coalition Frets, Parliament Votes Again On Dimas For Greek President appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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