Greece has brought forward to this month the date of its next presidential election, which is conducted by the country’s parliament. The announcement came after eurozone ministers approved a Greek request for a two-month extension to its bailout programme, due to end later this month. The presidential vote on 17 December will be a vital test for embattled Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. His decision prompted the stock market in Athens to plummet 9.5% on Tuesday. Analysts said the markets had been spooked by the risk of snap elections, which will take place if the conservative-led government’s nomination is not approved by parliament.
President Karolos Papoulias’s five-year term ends in March, and a vote had been expected in February.
Mr Samaras’s conservative-led coalition needs the support of other parties if its candidate is to obtain the backing of MPs.
But the left-wing anti-bailout Syriza party is leading in the opinion polls and the government faces widespread public discontent after a six-year recession.