Greek government gambles on early presidential vote in parliament after bailout extended

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Greece's conservative-led government has called for a vote in parliament for the country's new president late this month — in a surprise move that will determine its survival in the recession-weary country.

Government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi said late Monday the vote would be held Dec. 17, with possible later rounds held through Dec. 22. The vote had not been expected to be held until late February.

The government needs support from opposition lawmakers to avoid a stalemate and a snap general election, but is trailing in opinion polls to the anti-bailout Syriza party and facing widespread public discontent after a six-year recession.

Earlier Monday, Eurozone bailout lenders backed a Greek request to extend the rescue lending program for another two months.