Greek markets went through the floor when prime minister Antonis Samaras announced that he was pushing ahead a vote to approve the country’s President to this month.
On Monday Dec. 8, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced that the vote (which is conducted among legislators, not the wider population) would go ahead this month. By Thursday, the resulting chaos had wiped 20% off the Athens Stock Exchange.
There’s a huge amount of speculation about whether the current government will be able to get enough support. It needs 180 of 300 MPs, and it only has 155. So the vote will come down to a handful of small parties, one of which is the Independent Greeks. Unlike some of Greece’s other anti-austerity parties, several are former members of the governing New Democracy party who may vote in favour of presidential candidate Stavros Dimas.
Independent Greeks MP Pavlos Haikalis made the shocking allegation this morning that a consultant who’s worked for Deutsche Bank and Greece’s Piraeus Bank tried to bribe him to vote with the government. The implied allegation is that if the banks new they had his vote, there might not be a general election and the stock market would see a sudden upward pop. Banks would also avoid being targeted by the hard left Syriza coalition, which is the current frontrunner in the polls.
Haikalis says he has recordings of the conversations, adding: “They gave me 700,000 euros in cash as a first instalment and following this an agreement for bank loans, as well as contracts with an ad agency.” Despite the attempt, it doesn’t sound like he was persuaded. He added, “it goes without saying that I wouldn’t vote for Stavros Dimas”.
Whether the Independent Greeks MPs vote with or against the government will likely determine whether there’s a snap election, which would likely be won by radical leftists Syriza, who have investors pretty terrified. A poll just released has Syriza at 36.5%, seven points ahead of governing New Democracy.