The prospect of some kind of last minute deal emerging to secure the election of a president and averting snap elections in Greece is looking slim at the moment despite a growing number of government MPs openly stating their support for a compromise solution.
Wednesday’s presidential ballot, in which government candidate Stavros Dimas attracted just 160 votes, leaves the coalition with a huge amount of work to do by the final vote on December 29 if it is to have any chance of avoiding early election.
A total of 160 MPs backed the government's presidential candidate, Stavros Dimas, on Wednesday, which was one vote less than the coalition's most conservative estimates. Another 135 voted "present" and five were absent.
The first round of the presidential ballot on Wednesday evening is unlikely to provide any clear indications about whether the current Greek Parliament will manage to elect a new head of state by the final vote on December 29.
The sense that Greece is in a full swing election campaign grew on Monday, as New Democracy and SYRIZA traded serious accusations, while Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras warned that political instability is undermining the local economy.
The government appears to have set 165 as its target for the number of MPs’ votes it hopes to garner in the first presidential ballot on Wednesday.
Former Prime Minister George Papandreou has added to the political turmoil in Greece by suggesting that he would a seek a central political role if Parliament is unable to elect a president and the country heads to snap elections.
Despite earlier speculation that Democratic Left (DIMAR) might disband so its members could join SYRIZA, the one-time coalition partner decided late on Wednesday that it would not make such a move. DIMAR also reaffirmed its decision not to vote for presidential candidate Stavros Dimas, making the chances of him being elected slimmer.
In what could be a very tight presidential election, the role of one-time coalition partner Democratic Left (DIMAR) will be crucial.
The government’s surprise announcement on Monday that it is bringing forward the presidential election by two months marks the start of a desperate scramble for the votes of independent and opposition MPs that will determine whether the coalition survives or whether Greece heads for early national polls.