Switching the rules for the referendum


TAGS: Euro

The legislative decree that the government just issued changes in its favor the rules that apply for the carrying out referendums. It states that "if it is not possible to put together one support committee for "no" or for "yes" due to ideological, political or other differences this will be announced to the relevant minister by the representative of the largest parliamentary group supporting each of the choices." In this case two third of the TV air time is allocated to the parties and one third to other bodies backing each choice.

In other words, because Alexis Tsipras obviously does not want to form a joint committee with Golden Dawn (which also voted in favor of the referendum and backs the "no" campaign), the prime minister has secured for himself the right to appear on his own on TV for most of the air time available.

If this applied just for him and his coalition partner Panos Kammenos it would simply confirm the party-centric interpretation of the constitution. However, the new amendment imposes the two thirds and one third allocation to those supporting the other campaign, even if they do not want it.

This amendment was drafted after the referendum was announced, which on its own creates a legal issue. The amendment is clearly illegal as it adapts the rules to the needs of the ruling party. Not only does it seek to hide the fact that Golden Dawn, which is in court on charges of being a criminal gang, is aligning itself with SYRIZA but it also obstructs those who support Greece remaining within Europe (the "yes" campaign) to appear united, above party-related patriotism. This is an unacceptable intervention in the strategy of the rival camp for self-serving reasons.

* Nikos Alivizatos is a professor of Constitutional Law at Athens University.