Markets nervous as Greece’s failed presidential vote forces early national elections

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Greece was forced Monday to call early national elections, stoking financial concerns as investors worry the main opposition party will win and want to renege on the country’s bailout deal. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Greece’s government was forced on Monday to call early national elections, stoking financial concerns as investors worry the main opposition party will win and want to renege on the country’s bailout deal.

CCTV America’s Filio Kontrafouri reported from Athens, Greek.

Markets nervous as Greece's failed presidential vote forces early national elections

Markets nervous as Greece's failed presidential vote forces early national elections

Greece's government was forced on Monday to call early national elections, stoking financial concerns as investors worry the main opposition party will win and want to renege on the country's bailout deal. CCTV America's Filio Kontrafouri reported from Athens, Greek.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said national elections, the fourth in six fraught years of financial crisis, will be held “the soonest possible date” — Sunday, January 25. For those counting, that’s 18 months early.

“The country has no time to waste,” Samaras said in a televised address just after the presidential vote.

In the presidential vote, his coalition’s candidate for the post, 73-year-old former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, garnered 168 out of 300 possible votes- short of the 180 needed to win.

Parliament Speaker, Evangelos Meimarakis, said 132 lawmakers voted “present,” which is the equivalent of a “no” vote in a presidential election.

It was the third and final round of voting. According to the constitution, the vote’s failure means parliament has to be dissolved within 10 days.

Left-wing opposition Syriza has pledged to roll back some of the reforms Greece implemented to qualify for 240 billion euros ($293 billion) in rescue funds. But it has recently softened its rhetoric about unilaterally pulling out of the bailout deal.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said Monday’s vote showed that Samaras’ government was “a thing of the past.”

“With the will of our people, the memorandums of austerity will also be a thing of the past. The future has already started. Be optimistic and happy,” Tsipras said.

Analyst Dimitris Sotiropoulos, associate professor of Political Science at the University of Athens, said the result seemed “unavoidable.”

“Over the last few days the government has been unable to produce a new strategy, which would win over votes by members of parliament who had remained unconvinced about the need to elect a president of the republic now,” Sotiropoulos said.

Greece lost market confidence and nearly went bankrupt in 2010 after years of profligate spending, dodging public sector reforms, and hiding the extent of its bloated public finances.

The bailouts kept the country afloat, but drastic belt-tightening demanded by the EU and IMF hammered incomes and living conditions, sending unemployment to a post-World War II high. Ensuing resentment fueled support for anti-austerity parties, from Syriza — whose pre-crisis support was under 5 percent — to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.

Samaras, 63, presided over a historic coalition that united his conservative party with their historic socialist rivals to hammer out further draconian spending cuts that balanced the budget after decades and led to a modest economic recovery this year.

This story was compiled with information from the Associated Press