The coalition looks to garner the extra support to elect President

Coalition looking for support as first vote looms

The 'hunt' for the extra 25 non coalition MPs needed to elect President continues with first vote to take place this Wednesday, at 7p.m.

Anna Zarifi
ΓΡΑΦΕΙ: ANNA ZARIFI

With only a couple of days to go ahead of the first of three possible parliamentary votes to elect Greece's new President, and all eyes are on independent lawmakers and the DIMAR and Independent Greeks MPs.

The vote will take place this Wednesday, December 17, at 7 p.m. and so far only about 10 parliamentarians outside the coalition have said they will back the government's candidate, Stavros Dimas. This has led many government sources to suggest that 165 MPs will be a good starting point for this Wednesday' s vote, secretly hoping the support could get to 170.

The coalition needs a two-thirds supermajority majority – equivalent to 200 MPs out of the 300-member assembly – for its candidate, Stavros Dimas, to be elected in the first round. If it fails to do so, a second round will be held after five days, on December 23, also requiring 200 votes. A third and final round of voting will be held on December 29, but this time the required majority will drop to 180 lawmakers, which is the government's target. If the presidential elections fails, the parliament has to be dissolved within ten days and a snap election will be held as early as 25 January or 1 February. So far opinion polls suggest the snap election would be won by main opposition party Syriza.

The government currently has the support of 155 deputies and apart from the 24 independent MPs, a number of whom will side with the government, the coalition is hoping to attract some deputies for DIMAR (10 MPs) and the Independent Greeks (12 Mps) who have signaled that they would be willing to break party ranks and vote for a president.

There is currently an active search for rallying the extra support needed by the coalition including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras himself who called for MPs to vote for Dimas and the coalitions is counting on winning a lot of last minute support. Although the first vote is not crucial for the development of the process it is seen as a step that will psychologically affect the way lawmakers will vote in the next two rounds.

Both PM Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos view the next period as one of the most significant ones in recent years, one where the country will finally move to a post bailout era, after the recent two month extension. They know the presidential elections involves the risk of not being able to elect President but say it is time for everybody to assume their responsibilities in the eyes of the Greek people.

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