Electoral law heads to House amid criticism

Electoral law heads to House amid criticism

The government has announced it will submit its proposal for electoral reform to Parliament by the weekend and put it to a vote by late July, but it remains unclear whether it can actually muster the 200 votes needed to pass it into law, as most opposition parties have declared they will fight it.

Speaking to ruling SYRIZA’s central committee on Sunday, Tsipras fell in line with the party’s stated objective to replace enhanced proportional representation with simple proportional representation – which scraps the 50-seat bonus for the winning party – as well as to lower the voting age to 17 and maintain the 3 percent threshold to enter Parliament.

But with the leftist-led coalition’s poll numbers lagging behind conservative New Democracy, opposition parties, especially the latter, have accused Tsipras of pushing for electoral reform in a desperate bid to divert attention from the economy and a new round of austerity, along with putting party unity above the country in order to quell dissent among hardliners, such as the Group of 53 faction.

Communist party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas asserted that Tispras told him during their meeting last week that he wants the new electoral law to be his legacy and, the KKE chief said, admitted that he couldn’t do much in terms of pursuing a left-wing agenda in the economy, given the constraints that come with the country’s bailout programs. The prime minister’s office later denied the claim.

KKE has said it would support proportional representation as long as it was “truly democratic” – which to the Communists means doing away with the 3 percent threshold requirement.

Getting rid of the bonus would, invariably, lead to more coalition governments, but analysts and opposition parties are wary of administrations comprising two or more parties – given the poor track record of Greek political parties reaching across the aisle.

Centrist To Potami was even more emphatic, saying it would leave the country “ungovernable.”

With most opposition parties – ND, Potami, KKE – having already declared they will not back the proposal, the SYRIZA-led coalition is now banking on the support of socialist PASOK, which has, so far, not ruled backing the proposal.

However, Potami, which backs reducing the bonus as opposed to its outright scrapping, urged PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata “not to vote for the country’s ruin.”

“We call on New Democracy to accept our proposal for a reduced bonus and the leadership of PASOK not to back the Tsipras proposal,” Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said, adding that “it would be a crime for the country.”

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