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Dec 8, 2014 1:57 PM

Greek govt gambles on early presidential vote

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Greece's conservative-led government has called for a vote in parliament for the country's new president late this month in a surprise move that will determine its survival in the recession-weary country.

Government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi said late Monday the vote would be held Dec. 17, with possible later rounds held through Dec. 22. The vote hadn't been expected to be held until late February.

The government needs support from opposition lawmakers to avoid a stalemate and a snap general election, but is trailing in opinion polls to the anti-bailout Syriza party and facing widespread public discontent after a six-year recession.

Earlier Monday, eurozone bailout lenders backed a Greek request to extend the rescue lending program for another two months.

Voultepsi said that the presidential vote would be held earlier so that Greece would be in a stronger position to negotiate with bailout lenders.

"The political uncertainty must end now," Voultepsi said.

Under voting rules, parliament requires a super-majority to elect a president, whose role is largely ceremonial, for a five-year term.

A candidate must receive 200 votes in the 300-seat parliament to get elected, with a second round still requiring 200 votes and a final third round needing 180.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' pro-bailout coalition has 155 lawmakers. It hasn't yet named a candidate to succeed 85-year-old Karolos Papoulias, whose second term expires in March.


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