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Greeks Unhappy to be Facing Polls After Failed Presidential Election

  • Reuters

Alexis Tsipras, opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party, talks to reporters outside the parliament building after the last round of a presidential vote in Athens, December 29, 2014.

Alexis Tsipras, opposition leader and head of radical leftist Syriza party, talks to reporters outside the parliament building after the last round of a presidential vote in Athens, December 29, 2014.

Greeks woke up December 30 to a grey drizzle and one day closer to elections they said no one wants.

Greek lawmakers failed to elect a new president in a decisive final round of voting December 29, leaving the country facing a snap election that could derail the international bailout program it needs to keep paying its bills.

The only candidate in the race, former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, fell short of the 180 vote supermajority needed to become president. He garnered 168 votes, the same score he achieved in the second round of the vote.

Under Greek law, a general election must then be called, leaving financial markets and Greece's European Union partners facing weeks of uncertainty that could undermine fragile signs of economic recovery.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras set January 25 as the date for a parliamentary election.

A telephone survey of 1,017 households, conducted on Dec. 26-28 nationwide - before Monday's presidential vote - showed that 58.6 percent of Greeks were against snap elections.

In Athens, residents reflected these results.

“Elections should not be happening now. It's the worst time for the economy, for security, the people are not in a good mood, no one is spending money. I believe it is a very bad time,” unemployed Athens resident Suzanna Steiner said.

“I wish we were not going to elections. We should have left the government to continue its work and see what it would do. But since things have turned out this way, we will have to think about who we will decide to vote for,” private business owner Dakis Voultsis added.

Greece's left-wing opposition party Syriza holds a 3-percentage-point lead over the ruling conservatives, a poll published after the third round of a presidential vote late on Monday showed.

“In my opinion there should not be elections, a president should have been elected from the parliament and elections should have taken place at the regular time. I don't thing it was right, what happened. But since there will elections, the Greek people will have to decide what the right thing to do is and what future it wants with what type of government. We have the opportunity now to choose, since the members of parliament could not make a choice,” student Theodore Papaconstantinou said.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday promised to protect bank deposits in the country if he came to power in next month's election, in a bid to allay fears that his government would put the wealth of Greeks at risk.

The country's newspaper headlines on Tuesday also reflected the uncertainty that has erupted, with headlines ranging from “End of an Era” to “National Dilemma: Responsibility or Populism.”

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