ATHENS – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he doesn’t believe the country will be forced into early elections next year by a possible dispute over its next President.
Speaking off the record to New Democracy deputies at the Parliament’s cafe following the unveiling of an exhibition commemorating 40 years since the restoration of democracy in 1974, Samaras appeared confident that early elections would not be needed.
“It looks like we are not heading toward elections. It seems we have the 180 [the number of deputies that need to approve the election of the President],” Samaras told ND MPs, according to Kathimerini sources.
Earlier in the day Parliament Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis also noted that the current House was in a position to elect a new President but expressed his concern over the fact that discussion about the vote had been “premature” leading to an “extended pre-election period.”
Electing a president, who is usually a compromise between rival parties, requires in the first two votes a two-thirds majority, 200 of the 300 lawmakers, and Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and its partner the PASOK Socialists have only 154 between them.
The third and final vote requires a 3/5ths majority or 180 votes. It that fails to elect someone, Parliament is dissolved and elections are proclaimed by the outgoing President within the next 30 days.
In the new Parliament, the election for President is repeated immediately with a 3/5th majority required for the initial vote, an absolute majority (151 votes) for the second and a simple majority for the third and final one.
The system is so designed as to promote consensus Presidential candidates among the main political parties but major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, whose party has 71 votes, has threatened to block any nominee in a battle over austerity measures it opposes and other disagreements with Samaras.