Gov’t seeks to douse presidency speculation

The government on Tuesday sought to douse growing speculation about Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis being lined up as a nominee for the Greek presidency as lawmakers from the coalition and opposition parties continued to fuel the debate by expressing their preferences on a successor for incumbent Karolos Papoulias, whose term expires in February.

“We can’t discuss something that is set to happen months from now when we are preparing for serious negotiations for the country’s exit from the eurozone and the memorandums,” said government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi.

Meanwhile several prominent MPs could not resist offering their opinions on the matter. Health Minister Makis Voridis, formerly the spokesman for New Democracy’s parliamentary group, noted that Papoulias’s successor should be an individual “with broad appeal” but said he would prefer a “president from the center-right.” Andreas Psycharis, another conservative lawmaker, said current Parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis would be a better choice.

In the ranks of DIMAR, opinion appeared to remain divided on the question of Kouvelis’s possible candidacy. Sources have said the party will decide on whether or not to support Kouvelis as a candidate if it sees a shift in the coalition’s policy away from austerity.