Greece's bond yields have surged after the government brought forward a presidential vote. As Ciara Lee reports the political gamble has raised uncertainty over the country's transition back to financial markets.
"Santa Claus is bringing a president" read one headline. "Elections by order of the troika" another. The Greek government has brought forward a crucial presidential vote. It'll be held next week instead of in February in a bid to end political uncertainty. But financial analyst Nikos Kafkas says agreeing on a candidate so soon won't be easy and failure to do so will trigger a general election. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) MERIT SECURITIES FINANCIAL ANALYST NIKOS KAFKAS SAYING: "There is no time frame, we don't know how long this will last. Twenty days? a month? I think political powers must realize there is no grace period after that. They will need a solution as soon as possible." The news came after euro zone finance ministers said they were in favour of granting Greece a two-month extension to its bailout programme. That should help Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. He's desperate to exit the programme before he has to go to the polls because many voters have had enough. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) ATHENS RESIDENT SPYROS SAYING: "This will definitely lead to national elections, and this government has to go because we cannot take it anymore. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) PENSIONER GEORGE STEPHANIDIS SAYING: "I want elections as early as tomorrow, because this government that is ruling the country is a minority." Greek stocks fell six percent in early trade while bond yields soared. But BNP Paribas' Philippe Gijsels says the country is no longer a risk to the rest of the euro zone. (SOUNDBITE) PHILIPPE GIJSELS, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER AT BNP PARIBAS FORTIS, SAYING: "If the euro zone recovers as we expect in 2015 a bit, and if you see monetary conditions from the ECB very loose, that typically is not the type of environment where problems surface. And you can deal with the problems when they come." But opinion polls show that Greece's leftist Syriza party would win if early elections were held. And that could spell trouble for Europe. The party has vowed to end cooperation with EU/IMF lenders and reverse the reforms of recent years.