Final draft for new poll law

The Cabinet yesterday approved a new draft electoral law that will slightly increase proportional representation and break up the country’s two largest constituencies. However, the draft legislation will not include groundbreaking reforms proposed during the summer, according to which members of the electorate would have had the opportunity to vote for one party during national elections while at the same time backing candidate members of Parliament from a different political formation. If passed by Parliament – to which it is expected to be presented next week – the bill will not come into effect until after the forthcoming national polls, which are due in late April or early May. It will allow for the Greater Athens and Attica constituencies to be split into three and two parts, respectively, while increasing the proportionality of representation to 88 percent (from the current 60 percent) and allowing parties to form a government with 41 percent of the vote. Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, who drafted the bill, said 260 of the house’s 300 seats would be distributed on a proportional basis, with the remaining 40 going to the election victors. Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who chaired yesterday’s meeting, said the new bill would help «rationalize» the electoral system. «It will help produce stable governments, and is fairer, particularly to smaller parties,» he said. «It will also provide for cooperation between parties and groupings ahead of the polls.» Simitis also took the opportunity to deny rumors that his ruling PASOK party was planning to block the next vote for Greece’s president, so as to force early elections in the event of a spring victory for opposition New Democracy.