NEWS

Presidential candidate sets lofty goals

Speaking with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the Maximos Mansion just a few hours after he was named as the government’s candidate for president, former conservative Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos pledged to contribute his “humble powers in the struggle to extract the country from the nightmarish crisis.”

“The aim is to strive not only for our country and our people but for Europe as it was envisaged by its founders,” Pavlopoulos said in a televised exchange with Tsipras, who surprised many by naming the former minister and law professor as the leftist-led coalition’s candidate.

The first round of the presidential ballot is to take place in Parliament at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday and Pavlopoulos needs 180 votes to succeed Karolos Papoulias. If he fails to get enough support a second vote will be held in which he must clinch a majority in the 300-seat House and, if that also fails, a relative majority is required in a third and final vote.

As expected, New Democracy backed his candidacy, which was, however, opposed by PASOK and Potami. The latter proposed their own candidate, constitutional lawyer Nikos Alivizatos.

Receiving Pavlopoulos, Tsipras stressed the need for “calm, unity and a responsible approach.” Earlier, Tsipras said he wanted a candidate who would “have broad appeal in society and Parliament.” But Pavlopoulos was not his first choice for the post which was widely expected to go to another conservative, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. The latter’s candidacy was opposed by many in SYRIZA’s hard-left ranks, however. The fact that his candidacy would have left a vacancy in Brussels was another concern.