World Bulletin/News Desk
The Greek Parliament failed to elect the governments’ candidate for the presidency, Stavros Dimas, on Wednesday.
The former EU Environment Commissioner, who is a member of the center-right New Democracy party, received only 160 of the 200 votes required to be elected president.
Of the 300 MPs in the Greek Parliament, 160 voted in favor of Stavros Dimas.
From these 160 votes, 155 were from the coalition government's MPs: 127 from the center-right New Democracy party and 28 from the center-left PASOK party.
The other five votes were from independent MPs.
A coalition of 135 opposition and independent MPs did not vote in favor of the government's proposed candidate. There were five abstentions.
The second vote will take place on Dec. 23 and the last vote on Dec. 29 -- a vote which will also determine the fate of the government.
According to the constitution, the first two rounds require 200 votes in the parliament to elect a president.
If this does not happen, there will be a third and crucial round that will require 180 votes in order to elect a president.
The prime minister's office released a statement just a few hours before the first round of voting saying that electing a president will help avoid “political turmoil that could prove fatal for the country's European course.”
The Greek presidential elections come a week after the Troika -- comprised of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund -- agreed to offer Greece a two-month extension on its bailout.
The ruling coalition fears Greece's economic recovery could be jeopardized if a president is not elected in all three rounds of voting.
If the number of votes in the last round does not reach 180, then the government must resign within 10 days and early national elections will be declared.
There are fears that if this happens, it could bring back instability and open a new chapter of prolonged political uncertainty.
This is because opinion polls show that SYRIZA -- the Coalition of the Radical Left -- would win if national elections were held.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA, has promised to form an anti-bailout government which would bring an end to the Troika's financial aid to Greece.
After the results of the first ballot, Tsipras stated that: “the strategy of fear has collapsed,” referring to the coalition government. He added that “people will play a leading role in the developments.”
SYRIZA, the main opposition party, has 71 MPs. The Democratic Left party, DIMAR, has 10 MPs.
Golden Dawn, a far-right opposition party, has seven MPs -- including its leader who is detained and pending trial for participating in a criminal organization. He took part in the vote after being given permission to do so by the prosecutor.
Deputies of the extremist, anti-immigrant party -- which has 16 MPs -- were escorted to the main hall without handcuffs but with a heavy police presence.
The conservative, anti-austerity ANEL party has 12 MPs. The Communist Party of Greece, KKE, also has 12 MPs.
Greek parliamentary sources told the AA that there was a tense atmosphere inside the parliament.
The decision to bring forward the election was made last week after evaluating the opposition parties’ position on the state budget for 2015 and recent developments with the Eurozone.
Karolos Papoulias has been the president of Greece since 2005. He was previously a PASOK MP and also served as minister of foreign affairs from 1993-1996.
The presidency is a largely ceremonial role within the Greek political system, which is a unitary parliamentary republic.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2014, 10:29