Greek lawmakers took a step closer to changing the way the country’s president is elected after including the relevant article (32) of the Constitution among those that will be revised by the next Parliament after the national election.
In Thursday's second and final roll call vote, 224 MPs voted that Article 32 will be up for revision. This was more than the 221 votes the proposal garnered during last month’s initial vote.
This means the next Parliament will need just 151 votes to revise the article and to ensure that Parliament will not be dissolved if its fails to elect a president – as was the case in 2015, which led to the national election that unseated the New Democracy government and ushered in the SYRIZA-led coalition.
Parliament on Thursday voted on a total of 32 proposals presented by SYRIZA, four by ND and seven from individual MPs, all of which had garnered 151 votes in last month’s vote.
As things stand now, the next Parliament may also decide not to move ahead with the revision of the Constitution and to restart the whole procedure from scratch to include other articles that were that were not included in Thursday's vote. One of these is Articles 16, which bans the operation of private universities and which ND wants revised.
During the debate, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis slammed SYRIZA for its “devastating” proposals on constitutional review and for failing to come up with measures to improve education, justice, the environment and public administration.
“Despite our efforts to create a climate of understanding, the government turned down all of New Democracy’s proposals,” he said.
“I do not feel sorry for you,” Mitsotakis said, addressing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “I feel sorry for the country and the future of young Greeks. This debate will go down in history as a major lost opportunity,” he said. Mitsotakis also accused the government of seeking to narrow the scope of the next Parliament as to the direction and content of the revised constitutional provisions.
Tsipras defended SYRIZA’s proposals, while accusing the conservative opposition of trying to undermine constructive dialogue.
“The political system that was in power for 40 years had many opportunities to reform the Constitution but did not find the courage to do so,” he said.