ND eyes constitutional reforms

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to unveil plans for constitutional reform, including a change to the electoral system and the way the Greek president is elected, once the troika has completed its review of the country’s adjustment program, Kathimerini understands.

Troika inspectors are due in Athens this week and the coalition hopes that the review will be completed by the end of November or early December.

This would allow the government to concentrate on winning over MPs before they have to vote for a new president to succeed incumbent Karolos Papoulias early next year.

The government believes that the promise of major constitutional changes could help sway some of the 180 MPs it needs to elect Papoulias’s successor.

Among the changes being considered are for the president to be elected by voters rather than Parliament, thereby putting an end to the threat of opposition parties forcing elections every five years if the government cannot muster the required votes to elect a new head of state. Also, the coalition is considering enhancing the president’s powers.

In terms of the electoral system, there are a number of ideas being discussed within the government, particularly changing the way the 50-seat bonus is awarded to the party that wins national elections.

Speaking to New Democracy members who gathered in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Saturday to celebrate the party’s 40th anniversary, Samaras focused on Greece being close to a return to growth and exiting its bailout agreement. Sources said that in the weeks to come the conservatives will focus on the issue of who is best placed to lead Greece into the post-memorandum era, as the possibility of early elections looms.

“I am not tired,” Samaras told his audience. “I know they handed me a hand grenade [when I came to office] but I have defused it now.”

The prime minister also turned his fire on SYRIZA, accusing the opposition party of being dangerous. “They fanaticize some people but they frighten many more,” he said, accusing the leftists of making promises of handouts in order to hide plans to increase taxes if they come to power.

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