The country is set to enter a new period of political uncertainty after what was seen as a strategic defeat for ruling SYRIZA with the rejection on Thursday by Parliament of its flagship proposal for the country’s president to be elected directly by the people.
Parliament voted Thursday on which articles of the Constitution will be revised by the House that will be sworn in after this year’s elections. A second and decisive parliamentary vote on the the number of articles to be reviewed will take place next month.
SYRIZA’s proposal to revise Article 30 so that the president is elected by the people in the event that Parliament cannot agree on an appointment only garnered 148 votes in the 300-seat Parliament.
Its other much-touted proposal to revise Article 3 on church-state relations was only marginally passed. The motion to revise Article 3 and abolish references to the dogma of the Holy Trinity in the preamble and a “prevalent religion” received 151 votes.
The results of both votes on articles 3 and 30 showed that not all SYRIZA MPs toed the party line.
Conservative New Democracy accused the government of a “clearly calculated irregular political retreat” in relation to the way SYRIZA MPs voted. They voted against a proposal to revise Article 30.
However, they supported a proposed change to Article 32 that would stop Parliament’s failure to appoint a president from triggering national elections.
“The government’s own MPs, by refusing to revise Article 30, essentially rejected Tsipras’s proposal for the president to be elected directly by the people,” ND said, referring to a “coordinated effort to not disconnect the appointment of the president from the triggering of national elections after all.”
Tsipras wants to exploit the appointment of the president again “exactly as he did in 2014,” ND said, referring to SYRIZA’s blocking of the presidential appointment in December of that year that triggered the elections that brought the leftists to power.
ND also rejected claims by Tsipras of collusion between ND and Movement for Change to propose a Socialist veteran such as Evangelos Venizelos or Costas Simitis for president.
ND’s proposal to revise Article 16, which bans the operation of private universities, did not attract adequate support.