- Title: GREECE-VOTE/SAMARAS-TSIPRAS Greek Prime Minister names presidential candidate
- Date: 9th December 2014
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (FILE) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE GREEK AND EUROPEAN UNION FLAGS
- Embargoed: 24th December 2014 12:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA228AC4J6DLASK9ZQEPJBDS8VZ
- Story Text: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras named Stavros Dimas as his candidate for President on Tuesday (December 9), after the government brought forward the presidential vote by two months.
"The election of the President of the Republic had turned into a form of extortion for early elections, and although financially we had stabilised and we had finally entered growth, clouds of political instability and uncertainty were once again created in Greece and about Greece abroad. It was the government's duty to distance this uncertainty and to completely restore political stability by speeding up the vote for President," said Samaras, adding, "With the election of a president by parliament by the end of the month the clouds will finally clear and our country will be ready to officially enter a post-bailout era."
Stavros Dimas served as European Commissioner for the Environment from 2004 to 2009. The 73-year old lawyer and politician has worked at Wall Street's Sullivan & Cromwell and at the legal department of the International Finance Company at the World Bank. He has held several government posts including Minister of Trade, Energy, and Foreign Affairs.
The first round of parliament's vote to select a new president will be held on December 17, instead of February 15 as previously scheduled, and could trigger early elections if Samaras fails to get Dimas elected.
Samaras needs the support of 180 lawmakers in the 300-seat chamber to win Dimas the presidential vote - support he does not currently have.
Greek law stipulates that parliament must be dissolved and a general election called if a president is not elected. There will be three rounds of voting, with the last taking place on December 29.
Opinion polls show the leftist Syriza party would win if a general election was held right now. Syriza welcomed the move to bring forward the presidential vote. The party has vowed to end cooperation with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders and promises to reverse austerity cuts taken in recent years.
"We see this as a positive development. We finally know today the crucial date of December 29, when the catastrophic actions of the bailout coalition government will end. This year we have every reason during the holidays to hope for a truly happy new year full of substance," said Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras, adding, "We are ready and mature enough to take on the responsibility of governing the country, because we can and will provide solutions that will benefit the people."
The move to bring forward the presidential vote came after euro zone finance ministers said they were in favour of granting Greece its request for only a two-month extension to its bailout, a boost for Prime Minister Samaras who has been pushing for an early exit from the programme.
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