Next Parliament to elect Papoulias successor

Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias appears determined that the new Parliament to emerge from the January 25 elections will choose his successor, even if a government is not formed.

Sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini that Papoulias has been seeking advice over the last few days on how he should handle the situation after Greeks vote on Sunday.

According to the constitution, if no party garners enough support to form a majority government, incumbent President Papoulias will give the leader of the top party three days to form a coalition. If he fails, then the president will have to invite the leader of the second party to try and form a coalition. If that does not work out either, the baton will go to the third party.

This means that the process would conclude on February 4. If party leaders have failed to form a government at that point, Papoulias has the authority to invite them for talks with the aim of brokering a deal. If this fails, he can then dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

However, dissolving Parliament could create a constitutional problem as Papoulias’s term will have expired by the time second elections are held and a new House is formed. There is confusion over whether that Parliament will be able to elect a new president. Sources said that as a result of this complication, Papoulias is set to insist that MPs elected on January 25 elect his successor before new polls, if needed, are called.

Papoulias has also received advice on the issue of whether he will need to call Golden Dawn leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, to the Presidential Mansion if the neo-Nazi party comes third and the first two parties fail to form a government. Golden Dawn is polling fourth in most surveys, just behind To Potami.

Papoulias has been told that he does not have to meet Michaloliakos, who is in pre-trial custody, but can call him on the telephone and ask for a party representative to receive the mandate.