PM sounds out parties on electoral reform

PM sounds out parties on electoral reform

Pushing his much touted aim to reform the country’s electoral system, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras began a round of talks on Tuesday sound out party leaders on their positions.

He will also meet with main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday, but there is little indication the two men will come to an agreement, given that the conservatives have accused the government of beginning the electoral reform discussion solely because it is lagging in the polls, and that it is trying to demonstrate internationally that it is achieving consensus at home.

New Democracy has already issued a warning to other parties, sources claim, saying that if they join the “alliance of the willing” that Tsipras is attempting to form, they will be held responsible for the country’s future negative course.

The government, which has accused New Democracy of trying to polarize the debate, is now looking to strike agreements with other parties in Parliament.

According to his aides, Tsipras is preparing to present a general outline of his proposal, which envisages scrapping the existing enhanced proportional representation system – which gives the winning party a bonus of 50 parliamentary seats – in favor of simple proportional representation.

The proposal will also seek, among other things, to preserve the 3 percent threshold a party needs to enter Parliament.

But with many counterproposals suggesting that some form of bonus should be kept in place, it remains unclear what his final proposal will include.

The issue will also be discussed at this week’s meeting of the party’s central committee on Friday and Saturday.

SYRIZA’s influential Group of 53 faction has made it clear it will not diverge from the demand for simple proportional representation that the party had campaigned for, and has rejected any proposal that just reduces the size of the bonus.

Tsipras appeared on Tuesday to be verging on an agreement with Panos Kammenos, the leader of the coalition’s junior party, Independent Greeks (ANEL), with government aides saying that both men “can find common ground.”

Right-wing ANEL has also proposed, among other things, that the voting age be brought down to 17 and that the election of the Greek president is made by the people rather than Parliament.

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