Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Greek presidential candidate with compromised past

Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was nominated for the Greek presidency on Tuesday, is a high-profile politician whose career has been tainted by controversy.

The 65-year old has worked closely with previous presidents as well as serving as interior minister and parliamentary spokesman for the centre-right New Democracy party.

He was accused by critics of filling thousands of public sector jobs with friends and supporters of New Democracy during his stint as interior and public administration minister from 2004 to 2009.

Pavlopoulos’s reputation was hit again by the 2008 riots that broke out on his watch after the death of a 15-year-old Greek student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who was shot dead by police in Athens.

More recently, he was criticised for not lifting a finger to help a female lawmaker who was struck in the face by a neo-Nazi politician during a morning talk show in 2012.

But supporters applaud Pavlopoulos’s diplomatic finesse, and say he has already been working on proposals to overhaul the system to elect presidents to stop it effectively serving as a government confidence vote.

It was parliament’s inability to agree on a candidate at the presidential election in December which sparked early elections and ushered in the radical left Syriza party in January.

A moderate, Pavlopoulos boasts ties with Greece’s top statesmen.

In 1974 he served as secretary to former president Michail Stasinopoulos, after the pair become close while the latter was under house arrest during the 1967-1974 military junta.

He was also legal advisor to another former president, founder of New Democracy party Constantinos Caramanlis, between 1990-1995.

A lawyer who studied at University Paris II on a scholarship from the French government, he began working as a lecturer but rose fast to the rank of professor before moving into the political sphere.

Born in Kalamata in southern Greece in 1950, Pavlopoulos is married with three children. [AFP]