Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Greek premier prepared European ground before vote gamble

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.


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