Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ surprise offer to lawmakers to go to the polls late next year in exchange for a vote for his presidential nominee has injected fresh momentum into his fight against the anti-austerity left. However, as parliament prepares for a second round of voting on Tuesday to elect a successor to 85 year-old President Karolos Papoulias, the outcome still appears open with only a handful of independents pledging firm support to the government. If a new president is not elected by a third round on Dec. 29, elections will have to be held by early February, potentially handing power to Syriza, the main leftwing opposition party, which wants to renegotiate the international bailout agreement that Greece still needs to keep its battered finances afloat. Such an outcome could rock the euro zone, which is only just emerging from its debt crisis.
Greek media reported on Monday that Samaras’ candidate, Stavros Dimas, could get 169 votes in the second round, still 11 short of the 180 vote threshold required in the decisive third vote, leaving the race still too close to call. The second vote needs 200.
“There are already a few additional positive votes but I think that the chances of electing a president are extremely slim,” said Costas Panagopoulos, the head of Athens-based polling institute ALCO.