NEWS

PM seeks compromise with party leaders on electoral reform

TAGS: Politics, Economy

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reportedly in search of a compromise after completing a round of talks with party leaders on Thursday that aimed to sound them out about changes to the country’s electoral laws and a review of the Greek Constitution.

According to government aides, Tsipras will make the necessary compromises to reach the 200 votes needed in Parliament for the immediate implementation of the new electoral law.

But his final decision on the changes he plans to propose will also hinge on discussions to be held on Friday and Saturday by the ruling SYRIZA party’s central committee – with the Group of 53 faction having stated that it will not go back on the pledge the party made to scrap the existing enhanced proportional representation system, which gives the winning party a bonus of 50 seats in Parliament.

The group has insisted that it will not accept any proposals that just reduce the size of the bonus.

In his meetings with party leaders, Tsipras presented a general outline of his proposals, which include making the electoral system more proportional and scrapping the bonus, or at least reducing its size.

He also wants to maintain the 3 percent threshold for parties to enter Parliament, reduce the voting age to 17 and allow Greek nationals living abroad to vote.

According to sources, Tsipras told main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had from the outset said he would not support the government’s proposals, that his government was open to discussing any proposal that New Democracy brings to the table.

Mitsotakis, Tsipras aides said, appeared more positive on the constitutional review issue.

The conservatives have accused the governing coalition of starting the electoral reform discussion solely because it is lagging in the polls.

Smaller parties, like PASOK and To Potami, according to government sources, appear to be on board and ready to discuss changes to the bonus system.

Mitsotakis has warned Parliament’s smaller parties not to back Tsipras’s proposals, saying they will be held accountable if the country embarks on a negative course.

Meanwhile, as the government prepares for what promises to be tough negotiations with creditors on labor rights, Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos indicated that his aim is to restore wage bargaining negotiations between employers and workers.

If the country’s creditors maintain a tough stance in the negotiations, the government will insist that the monthly minimum wage be maintained at 586 euros until at least 2018, he told reporters.

Anticipating a particularly tough stance by the International Monetary Fund, Katrougalos said the government’s aim during the talks would be to “isolate the extreme player, namely the IMF.”

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