Coalition MPs push for compromise over president

There was growing pressure on the government on Thursday, even from within its own ranks, to come up with some kind of proposal that might bring the political parties together and avoid early elections.

A number of coalition MPs expressed their support for common ground to be found after the government’s candidate for president, Stavros Dimas, gathered just 160 votes in Wednesday’s ballot. The threshold for electing Dimas was 200, as it will be in the second round on Tuesday. It will fall to 180 for the third vote on December 29.

New Democracy’s Dora Bakoyannis called for a “broad framework of consensus” to be formed. “What I am suggesting is that we could agree on a date for early elections next fall, so it is after the tourism season,” said the lawmaker. “This initiative must come from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos.”

PASOK MP Leonidas Grigorakos also called for an agreement. “We have to move toward a climate of consensus,” he said. “We all need to water down our expectations.”

“I firmly believe that the country does not need elections right now,” said New Democracy MP Nikitas Kaklamanis, who called for national polls to be held in a few months’ time.

“A postponement [of general elections] would allow for the formation of a common front in negotiations with the troika,” said PASOK’s Costas Skandalidis. “If we hold elections now, there will be consequences.”

The prime minister, however, does not seem willing to consider the idea of a compromise deal. So far he has backed the options of either electing a president or going to snap elections. During comments before the European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday, there was no indication that Samaras is considering any other kind of plan.

“[Greece’s] spectacular comeback is due to an unprecedented sacrifice of all the Greek people,” he said going into the European Council. “I am not going to allow – and the political system in Greece is not going to allow – anyone to gamble with these sacrifices, to gamble with these accomplishments. Therefore, I believe that political uncertainty in Greece will soon be resolved.”