Greece’s conservative-led government on Monday called for a key vote in parliament for the country’s new president late this month – in a surprise move that will determine its survival in the recession-weary country. Government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi said the vote would be held Dec. 17, with possible later rounds held in the following 12 days. The vote had not been expected to be held until late February. The government needs the support from opposition lawmakers to avoid a stalemate and a snap general election, but is trailing in opinion polls to the anti-bailout Syriza party and facing widespread public discontent after a six-year recession.
The move was announced within an hour of Eurozone bailout lenders backing a Greek request to extend the rescue lending program for another two months.
Voultepsi said the presidential vote was shifted so Greece would be in a stronger position to negotiate with the lenders, who have provided €240 billion ($294 billion) in rescue funds in return for draconian spending cuts. “The political uncertainty must end now,” Voultepsi said.
Under voting rules, parliament requires a super-majority to elect a president, whose role is largely ceremonial, for a five-year term.