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Greece To Hold Elections After Parliament Fails To Elect A President


And let's move now to Europe. Greece will hold early elections after parliament failed to elect a president today. Joanna Kakissis reports that these elections come at a sensitive time for this economically troubled country.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: In the past, most candidates for the largely ceremonial post of president have been shoe-ins. But Greece is so politically fractured these days that the government's candidate - former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas - failed to win over the minimum of at least 180 of 300 parliamentary lawmakers. Now Greek law says the country must hold national elections, in this case, a couple of years ahead of schedule.

PLATON TINIOS: The problem is that we're having these elections on rather false pretenses, I may say so.

KAKISSIS: That's economist Platon Tinios.

TINIOS: They're elections looking backwards rather than forwards.

KAKISSIS: Politicians are still arguing about why Greece almost went bankrupt in 2009 and had to take out billions in bailout loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Instead, Tinios says, they should be talking about rebuilding after the worst recession in recent memory.

TINIOS: We have been doing a lot of reforms under external pressure, it's true to say. The problem is that the government, which has implemented, does not seem to believe in them.

KAKISSIS: That government, led by the conservative party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, is trailing in public opinion polls. The party likely to win elections is Syriza, a leftist party that strongly opposes the bailout. Syriza says it will roll back reforms and austerity measures, something which may cause funding problems for the Greek state and banks, says analyst Yannis Palaiologos.

YANNIS PALAIOLOGOS: And of course anyone who's thinking of making a long-term investment in Greece is going to be waiting to see where things end up.

KAKISSIS: That lack of clarity is unsettling both the eurozone and the markets.

For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.
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