ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ hopes to get his man elected as the country’s symbolic President and avoid snap elections picked up 10 crucial opposition lawmakers.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader and his coalition partner the PASOK Socialists have a combined 155 seats in the 300-member Parliament but need 180 and now need only 15 more to win and thwart major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, whose party is leading in polls.
The MPs who said they will back the coalition candidate – whoever it is – included independent MPs Spyros Lykoudis, Petros Tatsopoulos, Grigoris Psarianos, Vassilis Oikonomou, Christos Aidonis, Paris Moutsinas, Yiannis Kourakos and Giorgos Kasapidis as well as Democratic Left (DIMAR) lawmakers Nikos Tsoukalis, Niki Fountas and Thomas Psyrras.
The MPs are said to have co-signed a document calling for elections to be postponed and emphasizing the need for political consensus on the candidate who will replace President Karolos Papoulias, whose term is ending.
The document also called on Samaras and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to agree on a date for general elections later in 2015 but if Samaras gets his way in the Presidential election in February his government can ride out its term until the next national polls in 2016 and he can ignore the lawmakers who backed him.
Some of the lawmakers, chiefly Tatsopoulos and Tsoukalis, noted, however, that their signature would be dependent on both Samaras and Tsipras approving the scenario, a prospect which is highly unlikely.
Other MPs, including the independent Mimis Androulakis, and DIMAR’s Maria Repousi, are said to have expressed an interest in the initiative too. Androulakis, in comments to SKAI, did not rule out the possibility of backing the coalition’s candidate for President.
If they go along with Samaras’ choice, the Premier will only have to convince 13 others to gain a critical victory for his beleaguered government.