Parties diverge on constitutional review

The ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK parties are preparing for the debate on a constitutional review, although from quite different positions. According to sources, the government will be seeking changes to four specific sectors: education, restrictions on parliamentary deputies’ business dealings, the environment, and the management of money for political parties, based on the view that any changes should be for specific purposes. On the other hand, PASOK appears to want more general changes to a multitude of articles (regarding separation of state and Church, referendums, and giving immigrants the right to vote, for example) in an attempt to show up ND’s lack of initiative in adapting to the needs of the times. These proposals are sure to test the unity of both parties since a number of cadres on both sides have already made statements in public that differ from the official party line. The problem of cohesion is more marked in PASOK, since its main rapporteur, Theodoros Pangalos, is reportedly determined to propose the abolition of even basic articles passed in 2001 by PASOK’s then rapporteur Evangelos Venizelos, such as the controversial article on not allowing media owners to sign business contracts with the state. The only area in which both parties appear to agree is in the establishment of private, non-profit universities, and allowing some freedom – under certain conditions – to parliamentary deputies wishing to continue working at their former professions while serving in Parliament.

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