Tsipras waters down constitutional review

Tsipras waters down constitutional review

In the aftermath of last week’s failure to secure a supermajority of 200 parliamentary votes to change the country’s electoral system, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras unveiled on Monday a set of ideas for changing the country’s Constitution but backed down from the aim to allow voters rather than MPs to elect the president.

His proposals for the method by which the president is elected came up against the fierce opposition of the Faction of 53, which act as a guardian of ideological purity within ruling SYRIZA, and it is indicative of the delicate balance Tsipras must strike as hardliners have on several occasions expressed their dismay that the leftist party is veering away from its principles. Instead, according to the watered-down proposal, the president will be elected by the people only in the case that Parliament is unable to.

The proposals, which the government hopes will pave the way for a public debate, include issues such as the powers of the president, the use of referendums, the immunity of MPs and changes in the relationship between church and state.

Tsipras is also seeking to ensure that prime ministers are elected lawmakers, except when they are caretakers.

The aim, he said, is to form a committee by September that will oversee the public debate on the constitutional review and present a comprehensive proposal by spring next year.

The leftist leader said the constitutional review will mark a break with the post-dictatorship era whose “bankruptcy” and “defeat” is responsible for the country’s financial woes today.

“The answer to today’s problems, the new challenges and the new political reality” is to proceed to a new political changeover, he said.

In remarks that harked backed to the “Change” slogan that characterized the rise to power of influential Socialist leader Andreas Papandreou in the 80s, Tsipras said that “we Greeks must become the change we want” and urged people to participate in the public debate that will “lead to a new Greece.”

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