Lawmakers to vote on Constitution articles to be revised

Greek Parliament will vote on Thursday on which articles of the Constitution will be revised by the House that will be sworn in after this year’s elections.

Lawmakers will have one ticket on which the proposals from the two main parties will be presented, along with additional proposals by other MPs who managed to secure the 50 signatures required to be considered.

The announcements of the results are expected to be announced this afternoon, Greek media said.

PM Tsipras: SYRIZA proposes to renew the term of President Prokopios Pavlopoulos

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday presented SYRIZA’s proposals for the revision of the constitution, addressing the plenary of the Greek parliament currently debating constitutional revision.

Tsipras said that his party’s suggestions revolve around five main pillars, which he explained as follows:

– The first one is aimed at strengthening the role of the parliament and of the democratically elected government in order to enhance political stability and create conditions that can guarantee four-year political cycles. Proposals in this direction include: dissociating the election of the President of the Republic from the dissolution of parliament; rendering it mandatory for the prime minister to be also an elected member of parliament so as to preclude the possibility of “handing over the keys of the country” to a technocrat; and switching to a system of proportional representation.

-With the suggestions included in the second pillar, such as restricting parliamentary immunity to offences directly related to the MP’s parliamentary duties, Tsipras said that the government aspires to restore people’s trust in the country’s political life.

– The third pillar, he continued, is concerned with reinforcing the democratic processes and implicating the people in the decision-making process. To that end, SYRIZA proposes that any international treaty conceding sovereign responsibilities to international organisations should be ratified by a referendum.

– The fourth pillar pertains to the relations between State and Church, and includes suggestions aimed at promoting secularity;

– While with the fifth and last pillar, Tsipras explained, SYRIZA seeks to boost the protection of social rights and public goods, which, he said, “under today’s conditions of neoliberal dominance are constantly under threat and need to be shielded constitutionally, legally and actually.’

Furthermore, the PM accused New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of eluding to take a clear stance on SYRIZA’s proposal to renew the term of Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos in 2020, and called on him to do so immediately, when it is his turn to address the parliament.

Mitsotakis urges PM to back ND proposals in return for ND’s support of his own

Addressing parliament main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the government to back the revision of the articles that the main opposition wants revised, in return for the backing of its own proposals.

Speaking after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, he said the prime minister had “demonstrated ignorance [of constitutional issues] or a deliberate attempt to distort our positions.”

“Mr. Tsipras, I had submitted a proposal to you: let us get together and have ND vote for the articles that SYRIZA wants revised and SYRIZA those that ND wants revised, so that the next parliament can proceed with a simple majority,” Mitsotakis said.

When the people were called on to vote, he added, they would not only be voting for a government but also for the articles of the constitution that they wanted changed.

“What everyone can understand is that you are attempting to politically manage your emerging defeat,” he said.

Mitsotakis emphasised the significance of the constitutional revision and stressed that it should not be a “missed opportunity” at a time when Greece needs a “political revival”.

In this context, he added, a bold revision was a prerequisite for moving forward and he noted that ND had submitted proposals for the revision of 59 articles, while it expected the government to respond in a spirit of consensus rather than confrontation.

Mitsotakis went on to criticise the government of setting up a “special-purpose” majority in parliament and choosing this time to discuss the revision of the constitution as an attempt to change the political agenda.

The main opposition leader also insisted that the present parliament could not bind the next, revisionary parliament as to the content of the constitutional amendments.

“You are attempting to violate both the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” he told Tsipras, noting that the constitution was clear on this point and gave the people the right to express themselves in intervening elections and determine the changes with their vote. “Do you lack respect for the popular mandate?” he asked.

He urged the government to back the revision of articles 16 and 24 and said that ND would undertake to back two articles of the government’s choice in return. He strongly criticised SYRIZA’s proposals regarding the election of the president, however, calling them “dishonest”.