(Reuters) -- Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras urged lawmakers Saturday to prevent the uncertainty of snap elections by ensuring that a president is elected in a key vote in Parliament next week. Speaking ahead of the third and decisive round of the vote to elect a successor to the 85-year-old head of state Karolos Papoulias, Samaras said snap elections, mandatory in the event a new president cannot be appointed, were against the national interest.

“The Greek people do not want early elections,” Samaras said during an interview on state television. “I have done and I am doing everything to ensure a president is elected and snap elections are averted,” he said.

He repeated an invitation to other parties to cooperate in exchange for an agreement to hold elections late next year, but offered few concrete details.

However, Samaras said that if Greece does go to the polls, his center-right New Democracy Party, which trails the left-wing anti-bailout party Syriza in the opinion polls, would win. “Even though elections would be convenient for me, I want to see the ship safely into port,” he said.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by James Mackenzie)