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Greek government still well short of presidential votes needed to avert snap elections

23 Dec 2014

Greek MPs have today voted in the second ballot of Greece’s three-phase presidential election. The government increased the support for its candidate to 168 votes, well short of the 200 required in today’s vote. The threshold necessary in next Monday’s final ballot drops to 180, but this still appears difficult to reach and failure to elect a new president will result in snap elections.

Meanwhile, Greek daily Kathimerini reports that prosecutors have shelved an investigation into Independent Greeks MP Pavlos Haikalis’s claims that a mediator tried to bribe him to back the government in the presidential votes. Separately, former PASOK Prime Minister George Papandreou is planning to announce the formation of a new political party, although he has pledged to back the government's candidate for president before making any announcements.
Kathimerini Kathimerini 2

Putin ally warns that Russia is entering “full-blown economic crisis”
Alexei Kudrin, a former finance minister and key ally of President Vladimir Putin, has said, “we have entered or are currently entering a full-blown economic crisis; next year we will feel it in full force.” He predicted that GDP would shrink by at least 4% next year if oil remained at $60 per barrel. Meanwhile, the Russian central bank said it would provide up to 30bn Roubles to rescue Trust bank, the country’s 28th-largest lender by assets, “to prevent bankruptcy”.
FT WSJ Times Times 2

German executives pessimistic about economic prospects of TTIP and Juncker’s investment plan
A Forsa poll of German executives for Handelsblatt has found that only 26% of executives expect to profit from the EU-US TTIP free trade agreement currently under negotiation with 69% saying it will have “no impact” on them. 40% of executives said that they do not expect European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s €315bn investment plan to stimulate economic growth, with 55% saying that it will be ineffective. The poll found that despite An upcoming re-branding exercise by the German liberal FDP party, 70% of German executives do not believe that the party will ever again cross the 5% threshold necessary to win seats in the Bundestag, while 88% said that they do not believe the anti-euro AfD will take on the mantle of economic liberalism from the FDP.
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The latest anti-Islamification protest march held in Dresden last night drew a record high crowd of around 17,500 people. Meanwhile, in an interview with Die Welt, the CDU’s parliamentary faction leader Volker Kauder warned that “it cannot be allowed for an islamist party to be founded in Germany”.
BBC Welt Welt 2 

EUObserver reports that the Italian parliament adopted the country's 2015 budget late last night, after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had to re-draft the text to stick to EU deficit rules. The budget commits Italy to cutting its structural deficit by 0.3%, an increase from the initially planned 0.1%.

Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative Party treasurer and pollster, has said that opinion surveys in marginal constituencies showed that about three quarters of Conservative voters said they would definitely not back UKIP next year. The findings, he said, illustrated the dangers of “trying to be more like UKIP” to win back defecting voters.

The Times reports that Labour is secretly targeting Deputy Prime Minister’s Nick Clegg’s parliamentary seat in a “decapitation” strategy to scupper future coalition negotiations between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
FT Times

EU member states have agreed to double the number of judges in the EU’s court of first instance – the General Court – from 28 to 56 in order to help clear a backlog of 1,600 cases. The proposal will now have to be approved by the European Parliament.
European Voice

Princess Cristina de Borbón, the sister of the Spanish King King Felipe VI has been formally charged with two counts of tax fraud. The trial – the first ever of any member of the Spanish royal family - is expected to provoke a fresh debate about the future of the monarchy ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

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