PM names Dimas as presidential candidate, starts search for votes

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday named former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas as his coalition’s candidate for early presidential elections this month, paving the way for weeks of political turbulence as the government scrambles to garner the 180 votes required to endorse Dimas and avert snap general elections.

In a televised address, Samaras said bringing the elections forward was a way of “removing uncertainty and restoring political stability.” “When the current parliament elects a president at the end of the month, the clouds will be gone and the country will be ready to officially enter the post-bailout era,” he said.

The first round is to be held next Wednesday but as the coalition is virtually certain not to amass the required 200 votes the election will go to a second round on December 23; as that vote also requires 200 votes, the definitive decision is expected to be taken on December 29 when 180 votes are required for a candidate to be approved. If that vote also fails, snap elections will be called, probably for January.

As for the government’s candidate, Samaras declared his faith in Dimas, a 73-year-old former European environment commissioner and ex-foreign minister, saying he would be the government’s candidate in all three rounds of voting and describing him as “a personality respected by Greek citizens as well as the international community... who unites citizens beyond their political affiliations.”

Samaras’s decision to move the vote forward came just hours after eurozone finance ministers said they would offer Greece a two-month extension to the European part of an international bailout that ends on December 31. Samaras said the decision to grant Greece the extension “shows that in Europe, too, there is the...

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