Moving to scotch persistent rumors to the contrary, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday assured top government officials that he had no intention of provoking early elections, sources told Kathimerini. This might have happened on the occasion of the March parliamentary vote that will appoint a successor for President Costis Stephanopoulos, who is approaching the end of his maximum two terms in office. If the 300 MPs failed to agree on a new president, the government would be obliged to call early elections. Sources close to the PM said Karamanlis was determined to seek out a presidential candidate who would meet with the approval of the opposition, or at least that of main opposition party PASOK, which holds 115 seats. The same sources said the conservative leader is not expected to announce any names before the December 22 parliamentary vote on the 2005 state budget, adding that New Democracy’s final selection might not be made public until January. «Any discussion on the matter is premature,» acting government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said yesterday.