Friday

6th Dec 2019

Greek PM offers compromise on elections

  • "We cannot be swamped in an electoral battle right now,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said. (Photo: European People's Party)

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras has offered to bring forward parliamentary elections and expand the government to independent MPs, in a bid to secure a majority for his presidential candidate.

Speaking in an unscheduled TV address on Sunday (21 December), Samaras insisted on the need to avoid early parliamentary elections in the coming months, but said they could take place "by the end of 2015".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Samaras and his government have obtained a two-month extension of the country's EU and International Monetary Fund bailout program, whose terms of exit still have to be negotiated with international lenders.

He appealed to lawmakers’ “common sense”, saying it was vital to complete the negotiations in an environment of "calm and certainty."

"We cannot be swamped in an electoral battle right now,” he said.

The Greek political scene is anything but calm these days, after accusations of bribery to secure the support for Samaras' presidential candidate, former EU commissioner Stavros Dimas.

A first round of presidential votes in the parliament was 40 votes short of the required majority, with MPs on Tuesday having another attempt at electing the new head of state.

If a third attempt fails on 29 December, the parliament will be dissolved and early elections have to be organised, with EU politicians and markets spooked at the prospect of the far left Syriza party coming into power.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras wants the international community to pardon Greece's debt, just as Germany had its debt slashed after the Second World War.

Samaras rejected the bribery accusations and called on the independent MPs to back Dimas. He suggested that if the presidential elections are successful, the government "can expand with other people who believe in the European prospects of the country."

Following the first election attempt last week, Independent Greeks party MP Pavlos Haikalis said he was approached by someone in the "financial sector" who offered him a €3 million bribe to vote for Dimas.

Haikalis, a well-known TV actor, told reporters he handed over audio and video evidence to prosecutors. The Greek government maintains this as just "badly-acted theatre."

EU leaders have recently all-but spelled out whom they want to see elected in Greece, with EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker saying "known faces" should win, rather than "extreme forces."

For her part, German chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of an EU summit last week said she wants Greece to stay on a "stable path" and that she "wishes the presidential elections to succeed."

All eyes on Greece as presidential elections begin

Greek MPs are gathering for a first attempt to choose a president, with EU officials concerned about the prospect of snap elections and a sweep to power by the far-left Syriza party.

Greece in last attempt to elect president

The Greek parliament on Monday will have a last attempt at electing a new president or face snap general elections that could sweep the anti-bailout far-left into power.

EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans

An emergency resolution adopted at the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Zagreb calls on the EU Council and member states to take a positive decision on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as soon as possible.

Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

The outgoing president of the EU council, Donald Tusk, is set to be elected as the president of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). Tusk will have to deal with the final decision over Hungary's ruling Fidesz.

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  2. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  3. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  4. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  5. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate
  6. Development to fuel change
  7. Does EU have role in stopping backsliding in Georgia?
  8. Swedish candidate adds heat to EU ombudsman vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us