Prime Minister discusses electoral law reform with opposition leaders

Prime Minister discusses electoral law reform with opposition leaders

Athens, June 24, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with New Democracy leader K. Mitsotakis on Thursday to discuss electoral law reform and the review of the Greek constitution. The PM also held talks with Communist Party (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoubas and PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata to discuss the same issue.

The Premier’s round of negotiations followed a meeting earlier this week with ANEL leader & Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. On Friday Tsipras will receive Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis and the president of Enosi Kentroon Vassilis Leventis.

“We are striving for changes to the election law and Constitution that are based on the broadest possible consensus,” Alexis Tsipras posted on his Twitter account.

Tsipras is said to be in favor of a simple proportional representation system.

With his government’s popularity damaged by a wave of austerity measures demanded by creditors, the Prime Minister is reportedly keen to effect some changes that will give back a voice to the people and that are more in keeping with the ideals of his party.

Tsipras presented SYRIZA’s proposals to political party leaders and listened to their suggestions on electoral law change, while over the weekend SYRIZA’s Central Political Committee will convene to decide how the issue will be handled.

New Democracy opposes the “simple proportional representation” system SYRIZA seems to be advocating and the slashing of the 50-seat bonus to the party that comes first. However, the government still hopes to persuade smaller parties to back its proposals, thus isolating New Democracy.

“For us, this discussion should take place at another time and be linked with a revision of the constitution,” Mitsotakis said after meeting with Tsipras.

According to Mitsotakis, the country needs stable governments and the “rules of the game cannot be changed […] in accordance with the tactical choices of the government.”

New Democracy was currently only prepared to discuss issues relating to giving the vote to expatriates living abroad and on splitting up large constituencies, the main opposition leader said, since the present election system “serves the need for stable government.”

New Democracy sources said the party’s position on both changing the constitution and the election law is that “Mr. Tsipras will be defeated with the same election law under which he has won twice”.

Given that Tsipras and Mitsotakis will not strike an agreement on electoral law reform and the communist party’s (KKE) reluctance to compromise on the issue too, the total of 200/300 votes that are needed in parliament in order for the electoral law changes to apply in the next election will be hard to find. However, if the law changes with a simple majority of 151, the new rules will apply in the election after next.

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Koutsoubas

A meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Communist Party (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoubas to discuss electoral law reform reportedly in disagreement on Thursday morning.

Koutsoubas told reporters that the PM appeared to be undecided over the issue. He added that changes to the electoral law were of lesser importance compared to the financial problems Greeks face. The KKE leader also revealed that an agreement with Tsipras on the electoral law reform will not be possible.

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Gennimata

Emerging from her meeting with the PM, Fofi Gennimata said their talk had been more exploratory than specific and that their views only coincided on a proposal to reduce the voting age to 17.

“We made no agreements. Mr. Tsipras did not make his views clear, he did not present a comprehensive proposal,” she said, noting that PASOK would decide how to vote on the issue once the government made its intentions clear.