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The right-centre coalition government announced that the presidential elections, scheduled to take place in 2015, will now get underway next week, in a surprise move after securing a two-month extension of its bailout programme.
The government, that holds a thin majority in the 300-seat parliament, called on deputies to move quickly so that the vote to elect a new president could begin on Wednesday, December 17.
The issue of elections has created uncertainty for months as failure to elect a president would lead to parliamentary elections and political instability.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras needs the support of opposition MPs for his party’s candidate to win the presidential election.
Greek law stipulates that parliament must be dissolved and new elections called if it cannot elect a president, which requires approval by 180 of the 300 deputies.
Samaras’s New Democracy-socialist Pasok coalition currently has 155 MPs in parliament, but hopes to draw support from independent parties to get the 180 votes for its candidate.