Support for Greek presidential candidate up to 168 as final vote looms

Greek Parliament failed to elect a president for a second time on Tuesday after 168 of 300 MPs voted in favor of the candidate, Stavros Dimas, meaning a third ballot will be needed on December 29.

Dimas needed to attract 200 votes but the government did not believe this target was in reach. Instead, it wanted to increase the 160 votes it received last week. It managed to do this with the help of another eight independent MPs, beyond the five who voted for the former EU commissioner in the first round.

Those voting in favor of Dimas included two former Golden Dawn MPs, Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos and Stathis Boukouras, who had both been absent from the first ballot. The extra votes from the independent lawmakers came in the wake of a proposal by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for early elections to be held toward the end of 2015 in return for the president being elected now.

One Independent Greeks MP, Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha, was absent from the vote, meaning that 131 lawmakers voted “present” during Tuesday’s ballot.

The government will need to attract 180 votes in the final ballot, which takes place at noon in less than a week’s time. This means that the focus will largely fall on two opposition parties: Democratic Left (DIMAR) and Independent Greeks.

One Democratic Left MP, Niki Founta, quit her party shortly before the vote.