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Greece Heads to Early Election, Sparking Fresh Economic Concerns

 / Updated 
Image: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras attends the third round of a three-stage presidential election in the Greek parliament in Athens, on December 29, 2014. Greece's parliament on December 29 failed for a third time to elect a president forcing early elections in the coming weeks that could see a radical left party win power. The government candidate fell short of securing the 180 votes required, and under the constitution parliament will have to be dissolved in the next 10 days. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINISARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty ImagesARIS MESSINIS / AFP - Getty Images

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ATHENS — Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced plans for an early general election next month after parliament rejected his candidate for president on Monday. After three rounds of voting, the only candidate in the race, former European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, fell short of the 180 votes needed to become president, triggering a procedure leading to the dissolution of parliament.

Samaras immediately announced that he would meet outgoing President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday to propose holding parliamentary elections on Jan. 25 and called on Greek voters to ensure stability was preserved. Opinion polls point to a victory by the radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to wipe out a big part of Greece's debt, and cancel the terms of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Greece still needs to pay its bills.

"With the will of our people, in a few days bailouts tied to austerity will be a thing of the past," Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said after the vote. "The future has already begun." The result leaves financial markets and Greece's European Union partners facing weeks of uncertainty that could undermine fragile signs of economic recovery and derail its public finances.

— Reuters

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