The time is approaching for Parliament to elect a new president of the Hellenic Republic. The prime minister is expected to announce his candidate in January, but there has already been a lot of talk regarding the pros and cons of the various likely nominations.
It is possible that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will nominate a person from the broader center-left, in keeping with what has become something of a tradition over the previous two decades. However, many in the government camp – “liberated” from the constitutional requirement of a qualified majority – make no secret of the fact that they would prefer and expect the position of the country’s head of state to be filled by someone from the center-right.
If Mitsotakis recommends a candidate from his own party – which would make him the first prime minister to do so in 20 years – the least he could do is choose someone who will unite rather than divide the two sides of the political spectrum.
New Democracy’s parliamentary group includes three former prime ministers, two of whom enjoy broad popular appeal beyond the narrow confines of their party. For different reasons, each is liked by a number of people who do not vote for New Democracy.
Public relations concerns should not be part of the process of determining the candidate for president of the Republic. Given the tense state of Greek-Turkish relations, as well as the possibility that the two countries might end up going to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, we need to have the appropriate person in the post.
It will have to be a person who inspires respect and who can help bring consensus; a candidate who, both as a person and as a politician, stands for the principles of decency and the rule of law in the eyes of the people.
If the prime minister does not opt for the “safe route” – in the sense of ensuring the broad parliamentary majority – by nominating Prokopis Pavlopoulos for re-election (whom leftist SYRIZA has announced it will vote for) and also insists on someone from his own center-right camp, he still has a good option.
That person may not get any votes beyond New Democracy, but his candidacy will not cause friction inside government ranks, and he is well suited to serve the goal of national unity.