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Greek poll sends jitters through Europe

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 02:26

Five years after it sparked a debt crisis that threatened the euro's survival, Greece is making its European partners nervous again with an election that many fear could, ultimately, put the anti-reform Syriza party into power. Amy Pollock reports.

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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is trying to make his sums add up. He faces the first of three rounds of a presidential vote that could bring his government down. If he's to avoid a snap general election - which could see anti-bailout party Syriza gain power - Samaras has to do his maths carefully. He and his coalition government need the support of 200 lawmakers in the 300-seat chamber to elect his nominee. He has the support of 155 deputies, so it's not likely he'll win in the first two rounds of the election. The coalition government has to secure at least 25 votes from smaller parties to achieve the smaller, 180-seat majority needed in the third round on December 29. Samaras has warned of a "catastrophic" return to the height of Greece's debt crisis. But the radical Syriza party says it's just scare-mongering. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK OPPOSITION SYRIZA PARTY LEADER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "There is an effort going on to terrorize, to create lies, an effort whose goal is how to once again terrorize the Greek people and parliamentary deputies so as to bury the Greek public further into poverty and austerity programmes." Greece's euro zone partners are wary of a move closer to another debt writedown. Something Syriza has called for. EU Economics chief Pierre Moscovici. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER, PIERRE MOSCOVICI, SAYING: "We respect democratic choices made by any country in Europe and we discuss with any government in Europe. But of course as I said, we've got our own preference and our own preference is integrity of the euro zone, is reform led policies and it's confidence between Europe and the member states. And this is particularly true for Greece." Financial contagion from a flare-up of the Greek crisis is seen as less likely. But even a political crisis could cause problems across the euro zone. Admiral Markets' Darren Sinden. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET COMMENTATOR AT ADMIRAL MARKETS UK, DARREN SINDEN, SAYING: "A rebel state, if we did see the worst result from the presidential election, i.e. a no vote, no consensus, we could be back to square one, back to 2012, talk of a Grexit and a lot more friction in the euro zone." While uncertainty lingers, fears have sent Greek stocks and bonds plummeting. Investors are hoping Samaras can make his numbers tally by December 29.

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Greek poll sends jitters through Europe

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 02:26