Top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou was comfortably elected Greece’s first female president on Wednesday, wining the support of 261 out of 294 MPs present in Parliament.
The 63-year-old president of the Council of State will replace incumbent Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose five-year term ends in mid-March.
New Democracy, SYRIZA and Movement for Change (KINAL) all voted in favor of Sakellaropoulou’s candidacy. The new president will be sworn in on March 13.
“I assure you I will fulfill my constitutional role with all my powers,” she said after the result was announced, adding that this will be done in cooperation with Parliament, the prime minister, the government and opposition parties.
She went on to say that Greece is a modern country based on the rule of law, and an agent of stability and culture, and that it is imperative for it to secure its territorial integrity and sovereign rights.
She also stressed the need for unity on the domestic front.
Sakellaropoulou is expected to resign as Council of State president in the coming days.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had nominated Sakellaropoulou, welcomed her election as an indication that Greece’s political parties can reach consensus on the big issues.
He also said that a new era is dawning in Greece with the election of the Republic’s first ever female president.
“From the first moment this process began I had said that I would seek to propose a person who would symbolize the unity of the Greek nation,” he said.
“I am glad that the result of the vote confirmed that we can finally agree on the big issues,” he said, describing the president elect as a “great legal expert, judge and personality that unites all Greeks.”
Her election, he added, “has opened a window into the future, as our country enters more optimistically into the third decade of the 21st century.”
“Sakellaropoulou, is a person who symbolizes precisely this transition to the new era,” he said.
For their part, lawmakers of communist KKE, nationalist Greek Solution and leftist MeRA25 voted present.
In a statement, the leader of Greek Solution, Kyriakos Velopoulos, said the party did not concur with her candidacy because it wanted to remain true to its positions regarding “pensions, wages and national issues.” However, he said Greek Solution “respects the institution and we wish her the very best.”
MeRA25 leader Yanis Varoufakis said the agreement of New Democracy, SYRIZA and KINAL to elect Sakellaropoulou reflects the coalition of parties favoring pro-bailout policies.
Up until a recent change in the rules, failure by Parliament to elect a president could trigger early national elections. According to the new rules, it can take five rounds to elect a president.
Sakellaropoulou was elected in the first round of voting.