Papoulias eyes unity, new term

President Karolos Papoulias yesterday called for national unity to help Greece with its economic recovery after winning overwhelming support in Parliament to continue for a second five-year term in his current, largely ceremonial, role. Of the 298 deputies who voted, 266 backed the 80-year-old to continue serving as president of the Republic. The Communist Party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) cast a neutral «present» vote. Papoulias needed the support of just two-thirds of the 300 serving MPs to be re-elected. «In order to overcome the crisis, we have to pool all our strengths,» said Papoulias, a former foreign minister in PASOK governments. «We all have a duty, both citizens and the state, to join forces in a historic transition. We will all have to be united when we reach the other side as well.» Papoulias, who is the country’s ninth president since the return of democracy to Greece in 1974, became the third head of state to be re-elected to serve a second term. «A just, strong and effective state can reverse the current situation and can open better and happier paths for the Greek people,» said Papoulias. Parliamentary speaker Filippos Petsalnikos, who announced the result, also recognized that Papoulias would be Greece’s figurehead at a particularly tough time for the country. «You are being called on to continue carrying out your constitutional duties at a crucial time for the country, which is faced with major challenges,» said the parliamentary official. Papoulias’s re-election was a formality after New Democracy’s recently elected leader Antonis Samaras said his party would back his candidacy.

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