December 17, 2014
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has bet on Greece's future with an early vote for the presidency. But in contrast to a recent predecessor, he made sure before dropping the bombshell that Berlin and Brussels wouldn't stand in the way.
Samaras's decision last week to bring the three-stage parliamentary vote forward to this month from February took the Greek establishment and financial markets by surprise.
But a select few knew it was coming, among them German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. With Berlin playing a decisive role in European aid for Greece, Samaras and Schaeuble spoke repeatedly by telephone in the days before the early vote was announced on Dec. 8, according to a euro zone official with direct knowledge of the talks.
They discussed details of Greece's international bailout, which Samaras wants to pull out of a year ahead of schedule. They also talked about bringing forward the vote, this person said, even though the conservative premier has yet to secure a majority of lawmakers for the government's candidate.