SYRIZA to block new pres­i­dent

Tsipras in­di­cates his party will try to force na­tional elec­tions early next year over Papou­lias suc­ces­sor

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The pos­si­bil­ity of Greece hold­ing snap gen­eral elec­tions by early next year grew yes­ter­day af­ter SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras made it clear in Par­lia­ment that his party would op­pose any can­di­date put for­ward by the gov­ern­ment to take over from Pres­i­dent Karolos Papou­lias when his sec­ond five-year term ex­pires in early Fe­bru­ary 2015.

“Un­der­stand this: The next pres­i­dent of the repub­lic will be elected by a par­lia­ment in which SYRIZA and the forces that are fight­ing against the [EU-IMF] mem­o­ran­dum and de­struc­tive poli­cies will have the ma­jor­ity,” said Tsipras.

This sug­gests the left­ists would not be will­ing to sup­port any can­di­date put for­ward by the coali­tion, even one that is re­spected by the left. Given that the gov­ern­ment could def­i­nitely not count on the back­ing of the Com­mu­nist Party and Golden Dawn, if SYRIZA and In­de­pen­dent Greeks were to vote against the can­di­date, he or she would not re­ceive the three-fifths ma­jor­ity (200) seats needed in the first two rounds of vot­ing and would strug­gle to get the 180 votes re­quired in the third and fi­nal bal­lot.

Fail­ure to elect a new pres­i­dent would trig­ger na­tional elec­tions. The gov­ern­ment was hop­ing that SYRIZA and other op­po­si­tion par­ties would not re­ject a can­di­date with uni­ver­sal ap­peal. Com­poser Mikis Theodorakis re­cently re­buffed an over­ture by PASOK leader Evan­ge­los Venize­los for him to con­sider the po­si­tion.

How­ever, SYRIZA sources also claimed that the gov­ern­ment has ap­proached Papou­lias about the pos­si­bil­ity of step­ping down be­fore com­plet­ing his ten­ure. The left­ists say the gov­ern­ment is ex­am­in­ing this op­tion in case it wants to catch the op­po­si­tion out by forc­ing gen­eral elec­tions on its own terms.

Sources close to Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sama- ras re­jected the claims, de­scrib­ing them as “laugh­able.”

Papou­lias is­sued a de­nial yes­ter­day as well. Through his aides, he let it be known he has ev­ery in­ten­tion of see­ing out his term, even though he said dur­ing com­ments on Thurs­day, “This will be my fi­nal year.” Papou­lias’s ad­vis­ers at­trib­uted this to a slip of the tongue.

Tsipras is due to speak at an event or­ga­nized by the Dutch So­cial­ist Party to­day in the Nether­lands. Gov­ern­ment spokesman Si­mos Kedikoglou ac­cused him of “mak­ing a pact with the devil to dam­age Greece.”

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