January snap elections in Greece will be decisive for the country’s future in the eurozone, said the prime minister, on Tuesday 30/12/2014 after requesting parliament’s dissolution.
Greece’s President Karolos Papoulias appears determined that the new Parliament to emerge from the January 25 elections will choose his successor, even if a government is not formed.
Sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini that Papoulias has been seeking advice over the last few days on how he should handle the situation after Greeks vote on Sunday 25/01/2015.
The country was forced into holding early elections after parliament failed on Monday 29/12/2014 to endorse Stavros Dimas, the government’s candidate for president. The presidential elections are indirect, meaning members of parliament elect the president.
According to the Greek constitution, if no party garners enough support to form a majority government, incumbent President Papoulias will give the leader of the top party three days to form a coalition. If he fails, then the president will have to invite the leader of the second party to try and form a coalition. If that does not work out either, the baton will go to the third party.
This means that the process would conclude on February 4. If party leaders have failed to form a government at that point, Papoulias has the authority to invite them for talks with the aim of brokering a deal. If this fails, he can then dissolve Parliament and call new elections as in 2012.
However, dissolving Parliament in 2015 could create a constitutional problem as Papoulias’s term will have expired by the time second elections are held and a new House is formed. There is confusion over whether that Parliament will be able to elect a new president. Sources said that as a result of this complication, Papoulias is set to insist that MPs elected on January 25 elect his successor before new polls, if needed, are called.
Papoulias has also received advice on the issue of whether he will need to call Golden Dawn leader, to the Presidential Mansion if the extreme right party comes third and the first two parties fail to form a government. Golden Dawn is polling fourth in most surveys, just behind To Potami.
Papoulias has been told that he does not have to meet the Golden Dawn leader, who is in pre-trial custody, but can call him on the telephone and ask for a party representative to receive the mandate.
On the back of popular discontent over gruelling austerity, the price of €240bn (£188bn) in aid, Syriza has led polls since European elections in May. But the gap has narrowed since Samaras gambled by bringing forward the presidential election. An opinion poll on Tuesday showed a three percentage point lead for Syriza over New Democracy party. This followed the Greek finance minister Gikas Hardouvelis’ warning of economic sanctions by the European Central Bank if the anti-austerity Syriza won. Analysts predicted that Samaras, who has better personal ratings than Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, could win the elections yet.