The moment of truth for Greek lawmakers is finally here. The first vote in the critical Presidential election is scheduled to begin at 7pm on Wednesday night in the Greek Parliament. The voting process is going to act as a test for the coalition government of Antonis Samaras since it could indicate how the next two votes may turn out and certainly it is expected to be carried out within a profoundly polarized climate.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' office on Wednesday issued the following statement ahead of the first voting for the election of a President of the Republic:
"Tonight, the first voting for the election of a President of the Republic will be carried out. During that voting procedure, positive votes are not considered a vote in favour of the government; but a decision to defend the Constitution and respect the institution of the President of the Republic, as well as an avoidance of a political adventure that could be fatal for the country's European course."Referring to the first round of the presidential elections, SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis on Wednesday said:
"I believe that during the voting procedure it will be confirmed that we are far away from the 180 deputies and there will be no signs that these votes will be gathered in the next rounds. I estimate that the government will not find the 180 votes even if the candidate changes."Over the last few days, the coalition government has attempted to deescalate its clash with the opposition, but some are fearing that this was to no avail. Even though the government appears confident in securing the required 180 MP votes for the third vote on December 29th, recent developments are suggesting otherwise.
In the first vote, Stavros Dimas (the government-sponsored Presidential candidate) is expected to receive around 163-165 votes. Apart from the 155 votes from the New Democracy and PASOK MPs, the coalition government is expecting support from independent MPs Spyros Lykoudis, Grigoris Psarianos, Christos Aidonis, Katerina Markou, Panagiotis Melas and George Davris.
Reports are claiming that there is still a significant amount of MPs that are undecided about whether or not to vote for Dimas.
Meanwhile, New Democracy MPs such as Panos Panagiotopoulos and Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos argue that the Presidential election process would be greatly facilitated if an agreement is made for general elections in the next few months, as they claim to have come to an agreement on the public debt and constitutional reform.
Golden Dawn is also expected to take part in the vote. In fact a Greek prosecutor on Tuesday granted seven detained extreme-right Golden Dawn party members permission to attend and vote in the three rounds of the presidential election. It is going to be the first time that GD will participate in a parliamentary process, apart from their appearance last week in a debate concerning the lifting of their parliamentary immunity so that they could be prosecuted.
Party leader and MP Nikos Michaloliakos, as well as Christos Pappas, Giannis Lagos, George Germenis, Panayiotis Iliopoulos, Nikos Kouzilos and party spokesman Elias Kassidiaris are going to be escorted from the Korydallos Prison to Parliament for all three days of the voting.