The Greek government has narrowly passed a vote of confidence, with the aim of bolstering its support to present a united front for key bailout negotiations

Supporters of Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, applauded after his governing coalition narrowly passed a vote of confidence on Saturday, which the government induced to consolidate its position. The 155 MPs of Samaras’ government, a coalition between his centre-right New Democracy party and the Pan-hellenic socialist party Pasok, voted with the government to secure a narrow majority in a chamber of 300 MPs.

The meteoric rise of the radical left, anti-austerity Syriza party, which after polling of around four per cent of the vote in 2009 became the main opposition in 2012 and which won the European elections this summer, has led to calls for a snap election before the end of the parliamentary term in 2016. The Greek PM claims that such an event ‘would be disastrous’. As the Greek government is in negotiations over ending the bailout prematurely in 2015 with the European Central Bank, European Commission and IMF (the so-called ‘Troika’), Samaras may be hoping that an end to austerity measures and a gradual economic recovery before the election will steal the march on his opponents.

Before then, however, there is a further challenge. Next year, the Greek president Karolos Papoulias reaches the end of his term. As the president is elected directly by parliament, Antonis Samaras will attempt to put forward his own presidential candidate. If his nomination does not receive the requisite 180-vote majority, Greece will be forced into a general election. This is the hope of Syriza leader Alexander Tsipras, who has pledged to block Samaras’ candidate and will not put forward one of his own.

Tsipras, 40, was once a radical student before becoming the youngest leader of a Greek political party, aged 33. He has presided over the rise of Syriza’s engagement with a young generation trapped between austerity and recession, in a country that has suffered an incredible 25% loss of economic output since 2009 and youth unemployment of over 50%. Despite narrowly losing the 2012 election to New Democracy, he has left the coalition with such a fragile majority that the upcoming vote may depend on a handful of independent MPs. With the parliamentary arithmetic in its favour, Syriza are still ebullient.

Alexander Smith, Correspondent (Politics)

Image Courtesy: European People’s Party (https://www.flickr.com/photos/eppofficial/13581213043), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic | Flickr