The government’s bid for consensus with opposition conservatives over its intention to replace the Supreme Court’s president and prosecutor before a snap election on July 7 fell by the wayside on Thursday after its proposal was turned down by New Democracy.
If the government insists on moving ahead with its plans, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos will be called upon to sign the relevant presidential decree.
However, Pavlopouos is not expected to do so before June 30, when the court’s president Vasilios Peppas and prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou will step down. After June 30, the stance of Pavlopoulos, a constitutional lawyer, will depend on whether he deems that the move would violate the Constitution.
In a letter yesterday to ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou had urged the conservatives to get on board with the government plans, arguing the procedure had already been set in motion earlier in the month before elections were announced.
Kalogirou said it was a matter of respect for the institution of the judiciary for both parties to agree with the government’s move. This, he said, would “honor judges who have already been short-listed and sends a message of consensus and respect for the judiciary’s independence.”
However, his pitch was flatly rejected, and in a letter of response, ND’s shadow justice minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that the conservatives “cannot possibly give their consent to a blatantly anti-institutional procedure” and condemned the government’s bid as “unconstitutional and illegal.”
The law forbids the appointment of any public servant during a pre-election period, let alone a top judicial official, Panagiotopoulos’ letter added. Panagiotopoulos stressed that a government that has called an early election is effectively an interim administration and subsequently must restrict its purview to ongoing affairs.
Meanwhile, during a tour of the working-class Athens suburb of Aegaleo, Mitsotakis declared that his election campaign would focus on the positive, “without cries, shouting and division.” “We will respond to last Sunday’s popular verdict with absolute respect, without arrogance, but with the ethos and style that has always distinguished and will always distinguish this great party,” he said.