Greece dissolves parliament for January ballot

Greece’s parliament was dissolved on Wednesday ahead of an early election warily watched by markets and international creditors concerned that the austerity-weary country could begin to undo fiscal reforms.

A statement from the chamber said the election would be held on January 25 — as announced Monday by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras — and the new parliament would reconvene on February 5.

Its first order of business will be to elect a successor to 85-year-old President Karolos Papoulias, whose five-year term ends in March.

It was parliament’s failure to choose a new president in three successive votes this month that triggered the snap poll.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned yesterday that the financially-stricken nation may be forced out of the eurozone if the election is won by radical leftist party SYRIZA which has vowed to reverse years of austerity imposed in return for financial aid.

“This struggle will determine whether Greece stays in Europe,” Samaras told the president.

Fears of a potential Greek exit have already rattled markets and sparked concern throughout European Union capitals.

Greek stocks closed down almost four percent when the election was announced on Monday, having lost a massive 11 percent earlier in the day.

On Wednesday the bourse opened 0.32 per cent higher.

SYRIZA, currently the front-runner in opinion polls, has pledged to unwind many of the reforms imposed by Greece’s creditors — the so-called “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and European Central Bank — by cutting taxes and increasing state aid and public services.

The last election in 2012 plunged Greece into weeks of political uncertainty, and there are fears of a repeat next month given the close race between Samaras’s conservative New Democracy party and SYRIZA.