It appears that the government is determined to proceed with the appointment of a new president and prosecutor of the Supreme Court before a snap election takes place in July, despite the vehement objections expressed on a political, legal and constitutional level.
Opposition New Democracy has protested that the government does not have the moral or political legitimacy to do so given that Greece is heading for a national election which was called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the resounding defeat suffered by ruling SYRIZA in last Sunday’s European Parliament election.
However, according to sources from the PM’s office, the decision has already been made.
The government’s main argument is that outlined by its spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos earlier this week, namely that it is within its purview to replace the Supreme Court president Vasilios Peppas and prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou – who will step down on June 30 – even though the country is in the midst of a pre-election period.
Moreover, the same sources said that the cabinet will convene in the coming days to select their successors.
The law stipulates that the candidates be heard by Parliament’s Committee on Institutions and Transparency, but the last word rests with the cabinet.
An additional argument cited by government officials is that the process to replace the two had already begun earlier in the month before snap elections were called on Sunday night.
A similar procedure was also launched to select three vice presidents at the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court.
The officials also made the case that if replacements are not appointed now, the Supreme Court will be left without leadership after June 30.
However, critics of the government argue that, traditionally, the appointment of top judges has taken place in July.
Furthermore, they note that the current government took several months to appoint the president of the Council of State, Nikos Sakellariou, who was sworn in in October 2015 after the post had been vacated in June of that year.