Faced with negotiating an exit from the bailout and a budget for next year, that neither the country's lenders nor the public accept as viable, Samaras is effectively using the presidential elections as a confidence vote on his government.
A quirk in the electoral system means that if Greek lawmakers fail to elect a new president, the country will likely bring forward general elections to January. Recent polls show leftwing opposition party Syriza could then become the largest political party in Parliament.
If this decision was gamble on the part of Samaras to highlight the current political and economic risks, then surely the immediate selloff in Greek assets played firmly into his hands.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras accused the government of creating a fear frenzy, saying that "the countdown for the ruling coalition and its catastrophic policies has already started".
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Greek government minister Vassilis Kikilias told CNBC last week there was no political gamble taking place but he also acknowledged the importance of the markets. "The polls state clearly that the Greek people do not want elections. So I feel that being calm and realistic, MPs will understand what the general opinion is, and we will hear the markets too."
Tsipras argues Greece's bailout programme has largely failed to address the country's underlying problems like tax evasion and social justice, while creating others via cuts to wages and pensions. Syriza wants to see debt reduction, increased government spending and quantitative easing (QE) from the European Central Bank. More worryingly, he's also promised voters he'll walk away from the bailout on his first day in office.
Given that the current coalition government has spent four months wrangling with its lenders over bridging a 2.5 billion euro shortfall in the current bailout programme, who knows how long it may take Syriza to negotiate a debt writedown more than ten times that size?
Greece has almost 7 billion euros of debt due by late August, so the clock will be ticking for any new government. The inversion of the Greek yield curve last week tells its own story. Three-year yields were higher than 10-year yields. This panic in shorter maturity bonds is a phenomenon normally reserved for emerging market countries when investors begin to price a short-term debt default.
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