UPDATE: Stavros Dimas was the government's choice for the presidential candidacy. This changes the prospects somewhat as his political identity is of a much narrower spectrum than expected, falling largely into New Democracy party lines. It seems that, in an effort to appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of MP votes (from neonazi Golden Dawn to center-left DIMAR), the government's proposal is prone to weak support on its left flank.

By Gerasimos Livitsanos

Greek PM Antonis Samaras has called for snap elections for president, which means a
vote by parliament members to replace outgoing incumbent Karolos Papoulias.

The elections were due in February this year, but Samaras decided to bring the date forward by two months, with the first round of voting scheduled on December 17.

Another two votes are expected by late December.

According to Greek law, the first two votes on the government’s proposal for president will require the backing of 200 lawmakers, which is impossible. There must be a five day gap between the two votes. The third ‘attempt’ requires the backing of 180 lawmakers. If  not, the government must resign within 10 days and elections called as is stipulated in the Greek constitution.

The political conditions required for parliament to back the government’s nominee

The scenario examined below factors in the official positions of the parties and the recent statement by independent mp Mimis Androulakis that he will vote down any government proposal. Furthermore, we are excluding the, out of this world, possibility of mps of main opposition Syriza  (anti-bailout party leading in the polls that has stated it will not vote for any government nominee in order to force elections) and from the Greek Communist party (KKE) voting in favour of the proposal.

In order to reach the much coveted figure of 180 MPs to elect a president, the following conditions must be met.

a) The government’s majority, which today stands at 155 Mps, must remain compact and cohesive  

b) Getting the vote of independent mps, who are dithering and have not adequately made clear their position. There are 19 independent mps that have not made up their minds yet.

c) For three mps of Dimar (N.Fountas, N.Tsoukalis and Th. Psaras) of Dimar (centre left party which was a part of the coalition government before breaking away in protest against troika-dictated austerity) to go against the party line and vote in favour of the government’s proposal. The three of them recently signed a text, the so-called ‘the text of the 8’, which calls for the present parliament to elect a president, with elections announced in tandem. These are another possible three votes.

d) A confirmation of the rumours that mps of the Independent Greeks (far right nationalist party opposed to the bailout) are about to break with the party line not to vote for a president. In this case, the government’s proposal stands to gain between 1 to 4 backers.

d, alternative)  A confirmation of a report in Ta Nea newspaper that 3 mps of Golden Dawn (neo-nazi party, with most of its leadership in jail awaiting trial for running a criminal organization) are about to leave the party and offer their vote to the government nominee for their political atonement (and, perhaps, legal one).

If the above conditions are met, the government proposal will muster up to 184 Mps. Otherwise, we’re heading to the polls in early 2015.