Coalition set to nominate Kouvelis for president

Greece’s coalition leaders appear set to nominate Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the small Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, as their candidate for the country’s next president after Karolos Papoulias’s tenure expires in February, Kathimerini understands.

The moderate leftist, New Democracy and PASOK officials believe, could enable them to gather the necessary 180-MP majority in the upcoming presidential election which is key to the survival of the power-sharing administration.

The DIMAR chief is credited with joining the government coalition at a time when Athens needed to pass painful austerity measures through Parliament, while his popularity remains high despite his party’s poor showing in May’s European elections, when it earned just 1.2 percent of the vote. In addition, supporters of the idea say Kouvelis would be Greece’s first left-leaning president and could therefore be seen as a potential symbol of unity in the post-bailout period.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras has said that his SYRIZA party will try to trigger national elections in early 2015 by blocking the government’s nomination for a new president. None of the other parties has taken a clear position on the issue.

Analysts say that Greece’s disengagement from the memorandum, a deal on further debt relief and a change in the economic policy mix – all of which the government expects to agree on in upcoming talks with the troika of foreign lenders – will open the way for Kouvelis to accept the nomination.

At the same time, the move could bridge a divide within DIMAR between the Kouvelis camp and MPs rallied around party MP Spyros Lykoudis.