In what was seen as a tactical maneuver, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday that he will back incumbent President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in 2020 and called on New Democracy to do the same.
Tsipras announced his intention to back Pavlopoulos for a second term during the debate in Parliament on the constitutional review.
His decision came on the heels of ND’s stated intention to back, in principle, SYRIZA’s proposal that the president should be elected by the people, on the condition that the next Parliament is not bound to do so – keeping in line with ND’s position that the content of any revision of the Constitution must not bind the next Parliament.
According to Tsipras, Mitstotakis’s sole aim is to impose his will if he forms a government. This includes the election of the president with a simple majority of 151 if two previous parliamentary votes fail to do so with an enhanced majority of 180. He also suggested that Mitsotakis does not want to support Pavlopoulos for a new term, saying, “Perhaps he doesn’t consider him a good president.”
Parliament will vote on Thursday on the proposals by the two main parties on which articles of the Constitution will be revised by the Parliament that will be sworn in after this year’s elections.
SYRIZA has insisted that Parliament must also vote on how exactly these articles will be revised and that this should bind the next Parliament.
For his part, Mitsotakis accused Tsipras of using the debate on constitutional reform to politically manage his likely defeat in upcoming general elections.
The ND leader challenged Tsipras, saying that if he is so sure of victory, he should back all the articles that the conservatives put forward for revision, noting that ND will back the same number of proposed articles put forward by the government and then the next government can decide on the “direction” of the review.
In particular, Mitsotakis referred to the need to revise articles 16 and 24, to allow the operation of private universities and increase forestland protection. The debate on the constitutional review, he said, would highlight “who is really progressive.”
Mitsotakis accused Tsipras of using the Constitution for his own benefit, “as a tool to interfere with institutions and as a handle to cling on to power.” As for Tsipras’s call for Mitsotakis to express his support for Pavlopoulos, the ND leader said it was a desperate move.
“You must be desperate to talk about the current president and entangle him in your own party games,” he said. Mitsotakis expressed respect for Pavlopoulos, saying he had an “excellent relationship” with him, but stopped short of explicitly backing the current president.