- Title: GREECE-VOTE/SAMARAS Greek PM offers 2015 election once bailout talks complete
- Date: 21st December 2014
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (FILE) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF GREEK PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE GREEK AND EUROPEAN UNION (EU) FLAGS OUTSIDE OFFICE
- Embargoed: 5th January 2015 12:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAC6RR9BTA4XXXG9J1ER37TOROJ
- Story Text: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras urged lawmakers on Sunday (December 21), to elect a new President and offered the prospect of general elections by the end of next year once negotiations with international creditors are complete.
Speaking in an unscheduled television address, Samaras said that talk of snap elections had created an endless campaign cycle and vote-buying claims had further poisoned the country's mood.
"Elections should not take place. This political instability must end. Greece must move on to the next day. We cannot end a period of political uncertainty by immediately entering into another. The country's problems cannot remain mired in an endless pre-election season. Further, this orgy of unsupported and vile claims concerning the supposed bribery of lawmakers, which - as always happens - will be proved false, but only after the poisoning of our democratic process," he said.
He offered to hold elections in 2015 after finishing negotiations with the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and add new, pro-European faces in his conservative coalition government if lawmakers voted in his choice for President.
"After the Presidential election, we could widen the government's ranks, adding more individuals that believe in our country's future with Europe, so that the next phase finds us more united. It is our national duty but it is also common sense to first finish negotiations with our lenders and conduct a constitutional review in a calm and safe climate. Afterwards, shielded both politically and economically, we can find the right time period to hold national elections, even towards the end of 2015," said Samaras.
The unexpected announcement comes two days ahead of the second round of voting in parliament to elect a new President and follows a disappointing result for the government in the first round last week when it won less support than expected.
If the 300-member parliament does not choose a President by the third round of voting on Dec. 29, a general election will have to be held by early February, putting negotiations over Greece's international bailout agreement at risk.
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