Greek lawmakers failed to elect a new president in a decisive final round of voting on Monday, 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.
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Under Greek law, a general election must now be called, leaving financial markets and Greece’s European Union partners facing weeks of uncertainty that could undermine fragile signs of economic recovery.
The radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to renegotiate Greece’s bailout agreement with the EU and International Monetary Fund and roll back austerity policies, has held a steady lead in opinion polls for months, although its advantage has narrowed in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras appealed to lawmakers at the weekend to back Dimas but refused to offer more concessions and said he was confident of winning any election, which will have to be held by early February.