NEWS

Samaras to seek confidence vote in bid to rally coalition

The government said on Wednesday that it will request a vote of confidence when Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess next week, seeking to douse speculation about early elections and to rally coalition MPs and ministers as a crucial fifth review by the troika gets under way.

Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi said the government would “immediately” seek a vote of confidence when Parliament’s plenary reopens on Monday, adding that the procedure of electing a new president would begin as scheduled in February, a month before the term of incumbent Karolos Papoulias ends.

The statement was clearly intended to halt speculation that early elections could be held in the coming months as leftist SYRIZA intensifies its demands for snap polls and a renegotiation of the country’s loan deal with international creditors.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to request the vote of confidence on Monday, prompting a three-day debate which is likely to begin on Wednesday.

Speaking after talks with Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said the coalition partners decided on the action to secure “political stability and the nation’s strategic direction.” “The forces of irresponsibility, demagoguery and misery will not paralyze the country,” he said.

SYRIZA dismissed the move as “a final bid for survival” by the coalition, adding that “the collapse of the government is accelerating.” It accused Samaras of seeking the backing of a “parliament that lacks legitimacy.” “Albeit in this way, let him appear before the Greek people and defend his policies,” it said.

With 154 seats in the 300-member Parliament, the government is unlikely to lose the vote. Apart from dousing SYRIZA’s pre-election fervor, the coalition is keen to use the vote as a way of rallying its MPs and ministers, many of whom have recently suggested that snap polls might be unavoidable. It also wants to win time so the troika review can move forward.