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Snap elections to be held after Greece fails to elect a president

Stavros Dimas received votes 168 today from parliament’s 300 seats — short of the 180 votes needed to win.

Greece's Parliament Building
Greece's Parliament Building
Image: AP

GREEK PRIME MINISTER Antonis Samaras says the country will hold early national elections on 25 January after lawmakers failed to elect a new president in a third and final round of voting.

Votes

His coalition government’s candidate for the presidential post, the 73-year-old former European commissioner Stavros Dimas, garnered 168 votes today from parliament’s 300 seats — short of the 180 votes needed to win.

Antonis Samaras Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Source: AP

The snap election is likely to further rattle the economy and financial markets after Greece’s dire finances nearly destroyed the eurozone in 2012.

Greek stocks plunged 11%after the vote, with fears that the front-running anti-austerity Syriza party could undo many of Greece’s economic reforms if it wins the election.

“Tomorrow I will visit the president and request…that elections be held as soon as possible, on January 25,” Samaras said in a televised address after the parliamentary vote.

In recent days, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have warned the Greeks not to change course and abandon the reforms.

 ’Worst possible time’ 

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have overseen two massive international bailouts for Greece after its debt crisis nearly destroyed the eurozone.

But even after the rescue packages worth €240 billion and most of the debt held by private investors being wiped out, the economy has only just begun to recover after six years of contraction.

“The opposition today forced early elections at the worst possible time for the country’s economy,” conservative lawmaker Dora Bakoyannis said after the vote.

Opinion polls show Samaras’s ruling coalition trailing Syriza, which wants to renegotiate the conditions of the bailout and roll back unpopular austerity measures imposed by the international creditors.

But Syriza’s lead has narrowed to 3.3 percent from 3.6 percent in early December, according to a survey by the Alco polling institute for Proto Thema newspaper, indicating the party would not have a clear majority to form a government on its own if polls were held now.

Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras vowed to end austerity after Monday’s vote.

“With the will of our people, in a few days the bailout agreements of austerity will be history,” Tsipras told reporters.

Additional reporting AFP

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