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Greece's Samaras: saved or shipwrecked?

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 01:58

With the anti-reformist Syriza party still holding a lead in opinion polls, parliament fails to elect a new president in a first round of voting, leaving Prime Minister Samaras looking for as many as 20 votes to avoid snap national elections early next year. Amy Pollock reports.

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Is Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras marooned? The headline reads "Samaras Shipwreck" after he failed to win enough for votes for his candidate in the first round of the presidential election. But the government hadn't been expected to win. With just 160 votes in favour of their candidate Stavros Dimas, they only just met the threshold deemed adequate before the vote. And the leader of the anti-bailout party Syriza claimed victory. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) SYRIZA OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "The fear-mongering of recent days fell into a void. The strategy of fear collapsed. Tomorrow will be a new, more optimistic day because democracy cannot be blackmailed and soon the people will be the protagonists of the developments. There will soon be an exit and it will be created by democracy and the people." Samaras remains confident of an eventual win. He's hoping to head off a Syriza challenge in the snap general election which would follow a defeat in the third round on December 29th. His European partners are hoping for the same thing - and an orderly exit from Greece's bailout. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER, WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, SAYING: "Therefore it would clearly be a stabilising signal for everybody - for Greece, for the markets, for the euro zone as a whole - if it became clear that, yes, if Greece fulfills its obligations then the programme will be brought to an end within two months." Investors think the latest Greek drama is limited to the political arena Although Greek stocks were down after the vote, analysts are sanguine even about a future Syriza government. IG's Chris Beauchamp. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT IG, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "I suspect that the compromises of government for Syriza would mean that they are actually a very different party to the one they claim to be in opposition. it's always the way with these parties. Once you find yourself with your feet under the table, the situation looks very different to when you're arguing across the floor. So it probably isn't as scary as people think, but it's still an unwelcome bump in the road for the euro zone." This outcome is looking less likely. Syriza has been ahead of the government in opinion polls, but that's shrunk to a 3.6 percent lead. The polls suggest that Greek voters are wary of early elections just as their battered economy is showing signs of revival.

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Greece's Samaras: saved or shipwrecked?

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 01:58