Greek Parliament fails to elect new president in first round of voting

The Greek Parliament on Wednesday failed to elect Stavros Dimas as president of the Hellenic Republic in the first of three rounds of voting for the presidential election. With 160 votes supporting his candidacy, 135 MPs abstaining and five MPs absent, Dimas did not gain the support of 200 MPs needed to be elected in the first round, as required by article 32 of the Constitution.

The deputies participating in the vote had only two options: they could either vote for by calling out Dimas’ name or abstain by calling out ‘present’.

The five MPs absent during the roll-call vote were the independent deputies Georgios Kasapidis and Kostas Giovanopoulos, former Golden Dawn and now independent deputies Stathis Boukouras and Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos and main opposition SYRIZA MP Anna Hatzisofia, who was abroad.
Hatzisofia had sent a letter stating that if she were in Parliament she would vote ‘present’ (not supporting Dimas’ candidacy) but her statement could not be counted as a vote.

One surprise was the vote of independent MP Panagiotis Melas who also abstained, even though it had earlier seemed as though he would support Dimas.

None of the MPs strayed from the official party line as decided by their Parliamentary groups during the first round of voting, with all 127 New Democracy deputies and all 28 PASOK deputies, the two parties in the coalition government, voting in support of Dimas. An additional five votes in favour of Dimas were given by independent deputies, among them former DIM.AR MPs Spyros Lykoudis, Grigoris Psarianos and Katerina Markou, former Independent Greeks MP Georgios Davris and former PASOK MP Christos Aidonis.

The MPs that did not support Dimas and abstained by calling out ‘present’ included all 70 SYRIZA MPs that were present for the vote, except Hatzisofia, all 12 Independent Greeks MPs, all 12 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MPs, all 10 Democratic Left (DIM.AR) MPs and all 16 far-right Golden Dawn MPs.

The independent MPs that abstained included Vyron Polydoras (formerly of ND), Petros Tatsopoulos (formerly of SYRIZA), Mimis Androulakis, Theodora Tzakri, Markos Bolaris and Theodoros Parastatidis (former of PASOK), Vassilis Kapernaros, Mika Iatridi, Rachel Makri, Chrysoula Giatagana, Panagiotis Melas and Yiannis Kourakos (formerly of Independent Greeks) and Odysseas Voudouris, Paris Moutsinas and Vassilis Economou (formerly of DIM.AR).

Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis has announced that the second round of roll-call voting will be held next Tuesday, December 23 at noon and will again require a two-thirds majority or 200 votes. If this is not reached, a third round on December 29 will require 180 votes. Following failure of the third round to elect a president, the country goes to national elections.