Greece faces key presidential vote, risks snap election

ATHENS — Greece faces a third and final vote Monday to select its president, and the stability of the coalition government may rest on one of the country’s most unstable political parties: the right-wing Independent Greeks.

Ahead of the roll-call vote in parliament on Monday, the coalition government was 12 votes short of the 180 it needs. The government has to find those votes in various places, including grabbing a few dissenters from the Independent Greeks, a fractious group that has lost almost half its members in less than three years.

So far in the first two votes, the party has managed to hang together, with its 12 current lawmakers toeing a party line that seeks to bring down the government by blocking its candidate for president.

If that happened, the government would be forced to call a snap election, possibly in late January, some 18 months ahead of schedule.

In recent days, support has been growing for the government’s candidate, former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, but the momentum may not be enough to prevent the early polls.

In last week’s second round of voting, 168 lawmakers backed Dimas with 155 of them coming from the two parties forming the coalition government — the conservative New Democracy and the socialist Pasok. The rest came from parliament’s two dozen independent members, with several more likely to support Dimas’s candidacy.

 Varchev Traders

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