The first critical vote in the Presidential elections, which is scheduled to take place at 7pm on Wednesday in Parliament, is going to indicate whether the government has a chance of amassing the 180 votes it needs in the third vote.
According to the Constitution, 200 votes are needed to elect a President in the first two votes (scheduled for the 17th and 23rd of December) and 180 in the third (on the 29th of December). Should the government fail, then it must call general elections on the 25th of January or 1st of February.
At present the coalition government would be content if managed to secure 165 MPs in the first vote, although a more realistic goal would be 160 to 162. Senior government officials have repeatedly stressed that “a dynamic wave” is being created and that there is a long way to the third critical vote on the 29th of December.
The second vote, a couple days before Christmas, will greatly determine the third vote; should the coalition government manage to attract 172-174 votes, then there are chances of being able to convince a few more MPs to vote for a President in the final vote.
The coalition government has a total of 155 MPs in Parliament and would realistically have to hope that MPs from the Democratic Left and Independent Greeks decide to go against their party line and support Stavros Dimas’ candidacy. While both parties have announced their intention to vote against Mr. Dimas, a number of MPs remain skeptical.
Meanwhile the government is attempting to polarize the debate by investing in a strategy of fear, similar to the 2012 elections. The fear of a “Grexit” may have urged voters to support the pro-bailout New Democracy and PASOK, however it is not certain that the MPs will also follow suit.
The Governor of the Bank of Greece (and former Finance Minister) Yannis Stournaras entered the fray yesterday, arguing that the political uncertainty is having serious repercussions on the economy, as liquidity suffers. His comments reflects those of the government, which has claimed that early elections may result in a “credit event”.
The main opposition party SYRIZA considers this strategy of fear to be highly dangerous and that the Prime Minister may well stage an artificial crisis with friendly businesses, in order to cause a “bank run” that way sway the balance of the clash between the government and opposition.