Greece’s opportunity for a stable electoral system

Greece’s opportunity for a stable electoral system

The custom of legitimizing things that should not be tolerated may have innocent motives, but it inevitably prompts certain reflexes. Our society is addicted to cheating and tolerates it when it comes in a legitimate guise, and especially when it doesn’t harm any specific interests – except our quality of life more generally. In many cases, the harm is to the confidence in and consistency of the state. “What is legal is also moral,” as the saying goes.

The parliamentary majority’s ability to change the electoral system is another example of this attitude. And the fact that the new system will be applied not to the next election, but to the round after, which shows that even our thick-skinned politicians are ill at ease with the practice. Yet they carry on with their plans and the people simply accept it, and even adapt to the belief that there are no fixed rules and those with power can do what they like, as long as there’s some official stamp affixed to it.

They are not too bothered about changing the rules when this is in the interest of the stronger party. Many, in fact, find this normal. It is this kind of attitude that leads to social disintegration, however. Greeks know that something isn’t right, but are not motivated to do anything about it. It is what it is.

The next parliament will have the authority to revise the Constitution to include a relevant article.

Well-administered democracies have fixed electoral systems that are designed according to the particularities and historical experiences of their people

Apart from establishing and rewarding the principle that whoever holds the parliamentary majority also calls all the shots, the absence of a permanent electoral system has all sorts of negative effects on the way that our parliamentary democracy functions. One is that it prevents the formation of political parties on the basis of specific principles and organization; another is that it can lead to the kind of political instability that we are at risk of facing now.

Well-administered democracies have fixed electoral systems that are designed according to the particularities and historical experiences of their people. These systems, in turn, are responsible for shaping the political landscape to a significant degree.

If the Constitution is amended to include a fixed electoral system this would be a historic improvement as to how our democracy functions, on the condition, of course, that it is the right system for this country. Opinions differ widely on this particular point and they need to be discussed and processed. I personally would advocate a system that could produce strong, single-party governments. Others prefer systems that allow the broadest possible representation of different trends. Both options have merits.

What is essential, though, is that a public discussion on the issue is held. Instead of poisoning the atmosphere by slinging mud at each other, politicians should be discussing issues such as this one. Especially given that elections are coming and we’ll have a parliament with the authority to revise the Constitution, the ruling New Democracy party should have already initiated the public conversation.

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