Crucial vote for new President takes place today


The Hellenic Parliament will take the first of what is expected to be three votes today to elect a new President.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has brought the election forward by several months. He needs to get his candidate, Stavros Dimas of the ruling centre-right New Democracy, elected if there isn’t to be an early general election.

Hoping to defeat the Prime Minister’s plans is Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (better known as Syriza). Tsipras wants to undo all of the austerity measures that the government has been driving as required by the so called Troika of international financiers. If the government fails to get 180 votes in the final round then a fresh general election will be called, one which Syriza could well win.

A recent survey on the outcome of a general election by GPO pollsters for MEGA TV gave Syriza 28% of the vote compared to 23.1% for New Democracy. The other party in the ruling coalition, the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) is on 5.1% support.

Stavros Dimas is the only candidate in this indirect election. The first round takes place today (17th December) and he needs to secure 200 votes to win. The government can only rely on 155 votes in the 300 seat parliament. If they get less than 160 votes in this first round then they are probably in serious trouble.

The second round of voting will take place on 23rd December and again Stavros Dima needs 200 votes. In the third round the number required for a win is 180 votes. If he fails to secure 180 votes in the third round on 29th December then parliament will be dissolved within ten days and a general election will be called.

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