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Greek PM Calls Early Elections

  • VOA News

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called for early elections on January 25, after lawmakers failed to elect a new president in the third and final round of voting on Monday.

In a televised speech announcing the election date, Samaras also said “Greece does not have time to lose” and called on the public to support him in the upcoming election “to ensure stability in the country.”

"I sympathize with the anxiety of every Greek citizen, and I am here to guarantee the safe course of the country. Since the beginning our task was very difficult, we came very close to completely exiting the crisis. I am here to guarantee that the country will sail into safe and stable ports,'' he said.

The Greek stock market declined after the vote as investors worried that a new government might not implement unpopular austerity measures imposed as a condition for international aid to the troubled economy.

The European Union’s Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici called on Greek voters to back economic, “growth-friendly” reforms essential for country’s prosperity within the Eurozone.

"A strong commitment to Europe and broad support among the Greek voters and political leaders for the necessary growth-friendly reform process will be essential for Greece to thrive again within the euro area," he said.

The European Central Bank (ECB) said Monday that it was asking for answers from Greek authorities on how to continue with the review of Greece’s economic bailout package under present circumstances.

"We will wait for the views and suggestions of the Greek authorities on how to best proceed with the review, and we will discuss this with the European Commission and the IMF," it said.

The ECB statement recognizes that Greece had made "impressive progress in stabilizing its public finances and reforming its economy over the last years" and that the country was expected to return to growth next year.

Former European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas, the government's presidential candidate, failed to secure the required 180 votes. He secured 168 votes, the same he received in the second round.

Under Greek law, general elections must be called - leaving financial markets and Greece's European Union partners facing weeks of uncertainty that could undermine fragile signs of economic recovery. The vote in parliament Monday was seen as a last-ditch attempt to avoid the snap election, which could bring the left-wing Syriza party to power.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund, which have overseen two international bailouts of Greece, fear Syriza would undo many of the country's ongoing economic reforms.

Recent opinion polls indicate Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' ruling coalition is trailing Syriza, which wants to renegotiate the conditions of the bailout and roll back unpopular austerity measures imposed by creditors.