NEWS

Papoulias set for record vote

A special session of Parliament is today expected to vote in former PASOK foreign minister Karolos Papoulias as the next president of Greece with the highest number of votes ever received by a presidential candidate. Papoulias, a political moderate and close aide to late Socialist premier Andreas Papandreou, needs two-thirds of the house (200 MPs) to vote in his favor to be elected. Both New Democracy and PASOK have said their deputies will cast their ballots for Papoulias, ensuring a comfortable majority, with at least 282 votes. Left Coalition Synaspismos and the Communist party have stated they will vote against him but have not proposed an alternative candidate. If Papoulias, 75, garners this kind of support, it would be a record number of votes cast in favor of a candidate since outgoing president Costis Stephanopoulos was re-elected exactly five years ago with 269 ballots. Comprehensive approval of this kind would go some way toward vindicating the surprise decision by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to nominate Papoulias on Dec. 12 as the candidate most likely to generate the «strongest possible consensus.» Ioannina-born Papoulias served as foreign minister from 1985 to 1989 and from 1993 to 1995 and is considered to be a foreign affairs expert. He is also a figure who is not regarded as being highly politicized, which was a key element in Karamanlis picking him as his personal choice for the ceremonial post of president. His nomination met with the approval of Stephanopoulos, who will step down on March 11 after serving two five-year terms in office – the maximum permissible. The new president will take over the following day as the sixth person to hold the office since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974.