Samaras seen ruling out deal with opposition, wants president or snap elections

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is set to reject any attempts for a last-minute deal between the government and the opposition over the election of Stavros Dimas as president, preferring instead to go to snap elections if the coalition fails to get the minimum 180 votes needed on December 29.

Kathimerini understands that four independent MPs have prepared a proposals for a government of national responsibility to be formed, which would include SYRIZA, to banish the prospect of snap polls. Former Prime Minister George Papandreou has also called for a similar solution. This comes on top of another proposal put together a few days ago by eight independent and Democratic Left deputies for there to be an agreement between New Democracy and SYRIZA on a date for early elections next year, allowing a president to be elected now.

However, the prime minister’s camp has indicated that it would not accept such a solution and there are doubts whether it would be accepted by Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos and PASOK. Instead, Samaras believes that it would be better for elections to be held to clear the air if his bid to elect ex-European Commissioner Stavros Dimas as president this month fails.

Samaras also made it clear last week on three separate occasions that he has no intention of swapping Dimas for another candidate before the last round of voting if it appears that the New Democracy man has little chance of gaining the required number of votes following the first two ballots on December 17 and 23.

The government has set a target of gaining at least 165 votes in the first ballot on Wednesday. At the same time, it is hoping that there will be fewer than 121 “no” votes, which means that it will only have to focus on winning around those who voted “present,” cast blank ballots or failed to vote at all.

Samaras and Dimas have begun contacting the 24 independent MPs to sound them out on their voting intentions. However, the coalition will also have to persuade at least a few of the lawmakers at Democratic Left and Independent Greeks to join them if a president is to be elected at the end of the month.