The outcome of the second vote in Greek Parliament for the election of a new President of the Hellenic Republic that took place earlier today, was within market expectations. Specifically, out of the 299 attending MPs in the 300-seat Parliament, 168 voted in favor of the presidential nominee i.e., 155 MPs of the coalition government + 13 independent MPs including two former Golden Dawn parliamentarians who had both been absent from the first ballot last week. The number of no (i.e., “present” ) votes totaled 131; 120 attending lawmakers from opposition parties as none of them broke the official party line + 11 independent MPs. The 1 lawmaker that was absent from today’s parliamentary procedure belongs to Independent Greek’s parliamentary group and stated that if she were present she would cast a negative vote.
As a reminder, Article 32 of the Greek constitution incorporates up to three separate ballots for the election of a new President. In the first two, a 2/3rd majority of the total number of MPs is required i.e., 200 in-favor votes. If both fail to elect a new President, a third and final ballot will take place with a 3/5ths majority i.e., 180 “yes” votes needed. As the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament stated shortly after the conclusion of today’s procedure, the third vote will be held on December 29th at 12:00 noon (Athens time). In case that the latter vote also fails to produce a qualified majority, Parliament is dissolved within ten days and general elections are called.
Provided that all 168 MPs will also vote in favor of the presidential nominee in the third ballot, the government will still need to secure an additional 12 positive votes so as for the new President to be elected by the present Parliament. That said, a number of additional yes votes would need to come from smaller parties in Parliament; namely Independent Greeks (12 seats) and Democratic Left. All in all, we reiterate that the arithmetic of the presidential vote remains difficult to say the least.
Shortly before the start of today’s parliamentary procedure, NIki Founda, a lawmaker from Democratic Left (DL) sent a letter to the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament announcing her decision to quit the party and retain her seat in Parliament as an independent MP. Her decision followed the release of some press reports earlier today suggesting that DL’s Chairman Fotis Kouvelis and main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras are currently in talks as regards the possibility the two parties to cooperate should early general elections be held. As a result, the number of seats the DL party currently controls were reduced from 10 to 9. Niki Found voted “present” in today’s parliamentary procedure. According to some unconfirmed press reports, another DL MP, Thomas Psiras, has also quit his party and intends to retain his post in Parliament as an independent.