Prime Minister warns against failure to elect new President

Just a few hours ahead of a crucial presidential ballot on Wednesday, Greece’s conservative-led government warned that failure to elect a new President could have devastating consequences for the country.

“A positive vote will certainly not count as a vote for the government, but as a decision to defend the Constitution and to respect the institution of the President of the Republic,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement released Wednesday.

Electing a president, the statement said, will help avert a “political turmoil that could prove fatal for the country’s European course.”

The first of possibly three presidential ballots will take place on Wednesday evening, with the government expecting its candidate, Stavros Dimas, to receive at least 161 of 300 MPs’ votes, which will be well short of the 200 needed to be elected but a basis for the coalition to work from for the final ballot on December 29, when 180 votes will be required. Failure to elect a successor to Karolos Papoulias will trigger an early general election.

The vote is due to begin at 7 p.m., with all of New Democracy and PASOK’s 155 MPs expected to back Dimas’s candidacy.

Meanwhile, it was reported Wednesday that independent MP Giorgos Kasapidis is likely to be absent from Wednesday’s vote due to death in his family.