Conservative law professor voted new Greek president

AP News
Posted: Feb 18, 2015 2:18 PM
Conservative law professor voted new Greek president

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's parliament elected a conservative law professor and veteran politician Wednesday as the country's new president, after he received support from the new left-wing government and main center-right opposition party.

Prokopis Pavlopoulos' election ends an impasse over the presidential selection that triggered early general elections last month.

Pavlopoulos, a 64-year-old former interior minister, was seen as a surprise choice, as conservative European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had widely been considered the front-runner for the largely ceremonial post.

The vote was held at Greece struggles to revise a bailout deal in negotiations with Eurozone rescue lenders that had rekindled fears that the country could lose its place in the single currency.

On Wednesday, Pavlopoulos was elected 233-30, backed by the governing Syriza party, its right-wing coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, and the opposition New Democracy, the party of which the new president is a senior member. He beat fellow law professor and center-left candidate Nikos Alivizatos.

Several lawmakers from the parties that backed the new president publicly disagreed with his choice as candidate, among them Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a former public sector reform minister who was charged with reducing the size of Greece's large public sector as part of its bailout commitments.

Critics of Pavlopoulos say he failed to rein in state hiring or respond effectively to massive riots in Athens in 2008 triggered by the police's fatal shooting of a teenage boy.

Pavlopoulos will replace 85-year-old President Karaolos Papoulias, who served two consecutive five-year terms.