Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday nominated Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former New Democracy (ND) minister, for presidential candidate, underlining that in this crucial period the people’s social unity is necessary on political and state level.
Addressing the ruling majority SYRIZA parliamentary group, he said that a broad consensus is necessary to meet current challenges, pointing out that the selection of the presidential candidate cannot be independent from the present conjuncture. Referring to Prokopis Pavlopoulos, he said that he has a proven democratic sensitivity and enjoys broad recognition in society and in Parliament.
Responding to proposals by SYRIZA party cadres who were in favour of a leftist candidate, Tsipras said that the Left was never arrogant in crucial times and never claimed high distinctions for itself.
The proposal to be the main coalition party SYRIZA’s candidate for Greek president is a special honour full of responsibility, Prokopis Pavlopoulos said after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Mansion on Tuesday.
After the meeting, Pavlopoulos, a former New Democracy minister, said that the candidacy will give him the opportunity to humbly contribute to the struggle for Greece and Europe, the latter as a union envisioned by its founders which can also find its principles and values again, after losing them in recent years.
Asked whether he expected this proposal, he said no, and that it is best in life not to expect something but let life bring it.
Tsipras had been expected to announce a candidate on Sunday but the procedure was called off at the last moment due to objections from within his party. The prime minister was thought to have identified European Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos as his candidate, while Defense Minister Panos Kammenos reportedly proposed ex-Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. According to reliable sources, the president of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker objected to the replacement of Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos with a SYRIZA cadre that would have change the balance of power, proposing a high profile right wing politician such as Dora Bakoyiannis, his choice even before the appointment of Avramopoulos by Samaras.
Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was nominated for the Greek presidency on Tuesday, is a high-profile politician whose career has been tainted by controversy, according to “Kathimerini”.
The 65-year old has worked closely with previous presidents as well as serving as interior minister and parliamentary spokesman for the centre-right New Democracy party.
He was accused by critics of filling thousands of public sector jobs with friends and supporters of New Democracy during his stint as interior and public administration minister from 2004 to 2009.
Pavlopoulos’s reputation was hit again by the 2008 riots that broke out on his watch after the death of a 15-year-old Greek student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, who was shot dead by police in Athens.
More recently, he was criticised for not lifting a finger to help a female lawmaker who was struck in the face by a neo-Nazi politician during a morning talk show in 2012.
But supporters applaud Pavlopoulos’s diplomatic finesse, and say he has already been working on proposals to overhaul the system to elect presidents to stop it effectively serving as a government confidence vote.
It was parliament’s inability to agree on a candidate at the presidential election in December which sparked early elections and ushered in the radical left Syriza party in January.
A moderate, Pavlopoulos boasts ties with Greece’s top statesmen.
In 1974 he served as secretary to former president Michail Stasinopoulos, after the pair become close while the latter was under house arrest during the 1967-1974 military junta.
He was also legal advisor to another former president, founder of New Democracy party Constantinos Caramanlis, between 1990-1995.
A lawyer who studied at University Paris II on a scholarship from the French government, he began working as a lecturer but rose fast to the rank of professor before moving into the political sphere.
Born in Kalamata in southern Greece in 1950, Pavlopoulos is married with three children. [AFP]
Main opposition New Democracy will support majority ruling SYRIZA’s candidate for president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the party spokesman Kostas Karagounis said on Tuesday.
“For the presidential election in December, we had nominated the vice-president of New Democracy Stavros Dimas, an expert in European issues, a moderate politician and a former foreign minister,” Karagounis stated in a press release.
“Today, SYRIZA nominates Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former minister and party MP of New Democracy, a pro-European figure and a moderate politician. It goes without saying that ND will support the candidacy of its top party official. We are certain Prokopis Pavlopoulos will carry out his obligations in full,” he added.
Opposition To Potami party on Tuesday nominated National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA) Constitutional Law professor Nikos Alivizatos as its presidential candidate.
Announcing the nomination, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said that Alivizatos is “an ardent advocate of human rights, a university professor who enjoys great recognition.”
He also said that he is a scientist widely recognized in Europe and an active citizen free of political party affiliations.
Accepting the nomination, Alivizatos said that “in the current circumstances as shaped following the general elections, everybody has an obligation to contribute to efforts made to resolve the unprecedented problems the country faces,” noting that only broad consensus can bring positive results.
To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis on Tuesday spoke with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas to inform him personally that his party will propose Nikos Alivizatos for Greek president.
According to a KKE brief, Koutsoumbas noted the party’s stance related to the presidential election, regardless of who the candidates proposed will be.
The opposition PASOK parliamentary groupon Tuesday decided to support the Potami party nominee for Greek president Nikos Alivizatos and vote against the SYRIZA-ANEL candidate for “deeply political reasons,” following a recommendation by party leader Evangelos Venizelos.
A PASOK parliamentary group announcement underlined that the party is firmly in favour of a broad institutional and national consensus and has proven it by shouldering a disproportionally heavy load. It also underlined that it is one thing to have institutional consensus as regards the president of the republic and another to use the presidential election to show that SYRIZA and ND coincide when, in essence, the preconditions for a true national consensus are absent.
The country lacks strategy even though many citizens in good faith think that the government is in a tough negotiation, the PASOK parliamentary group statement added.
Following the announcement, professor Alivizatos called and thanked Venizelos in person and the PASOK parliamentary group for the honour of supporting his candidacy.
The prime minister is preparing the ground for the signing of a new agreement with the EU and the country’s creditors, taking advantage of the people’s anxiousness to get rid of anti-popular policies, an informal comment by opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday underlined in response to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ address before the ruling SYRIZA party parliamentary group.
According to the KKE comment, “the prime minister rushes to announce the government’s first legislative initiatives that are nothing but a drop of water in an ocean of enabling laws and memorandums, which KKE will seek to abolish in the immediate future through a draft bill and a roll-call vote.”
Referring to Prokopis Pavlopoulos’ nomination as SYRIZA’s candidate for the Greek presidency, KKE underlined that he is a New Democracy cadre and former minister, adding that the KKE MPs will vote “present” in Parliament during the presidential election tomorrow (Feb. 18).
An announcement issued earlier by KKE underlined that, in essence, the SYRIZA-ANEL government fully accepts the substance of the previous commitments to the eurozone – the so-called reforms at the expense of the people.
How Greek Parliament will vote
for Greek president on Wednesday
In Wednesday’s parliamentary election for Greek president, the winning candidate needs to collect a three-fifths majority out of the 300 deputies, or 180 votes, according to the Constitution.
The current government, which arose from the failure of the previous parliamentary session to elect a president and the declaration of national elections, will not have to collect the 200 votes required in the previous session. If no candidate collects 180 votes, the election by deputies must be repeated within five days. The winning candidate in that case will need the absolute majority of all deputies, or 151 votes.
If that also fails, a third round is allowed – again within five days – between the two people who received most votes, and the round is won by the candidate who collects a majority.
In these elections, the Constitution and the Parliament’s Rules of Order require deputies to vote by roll call. They will have only two choices (naming the candidate they support or declaring “present”), as voting “against” or justifying one’s selection is not allowed.
Following the electoral result, Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou will go to the winning candidate’s location of choice to announce the results. The Greek president must assume his duties the day after the end of the current president’s, which is in March.
Before assuming his duties, the new president must take the following oath of office before Parliament: “I swear (in the name of the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity) to safeguard the Constitution and the laws, to ensure their faithful observance, to defend the national independence and territorial integrity of the country, to protect the rights and liberties of the Greeks and to serve the general interest and the progress of the Greek people.”