PM waters down re­view

Tsipras presents ideas for con­sti­tu­tional change with con­ces­sion over pres­i­dent

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

In the af­ter­math of last week’s fail­ure to se­cure a su­per­ma­jor­ity of 200 par­lia­men­tary votes to change the coun­try’s elec­toral sys­tem, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras un­veiled yes­ter­day a set of ideas for chang­ing the coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion but backed down from the aim to al­low vot­ers rather than MPs to elect the pres­i­dent.

His pro­pos­als for the method by which the pres­i­dent is elected came up against the fierce op­po­si­tion of the Fac­tion of 53, which act as a guardian of ide­o­log­i­cal pu­rity within rul­ing SYRIZA, and it is in­dica­tive of the del­i­cate bal­ance Tsipras must strike as hard­lin­ers have on sev­eral oc­ca­sions ex­pressed their dis­may that the left­ist party is veer­ing away from its prin­ci­ples. In­stead, ac­cord­ing to the wa­tered-down pro­posal, the pres­i­dent will be elected by the peo­ple only in the case that Par­lia­ment is un­able to.

The pro­pos­als, which the govern­ment hopes will pave the way for a pub­lic de­bate, in­clude is­sues such as the pow­ers of the pres­i­dent, the use of ref­er­en­dums, the im­mu­nity of MPs and changes in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween church and state.

Tsipras is also seek­ing to en­sure that prime min­is­ters are elected law­mak­ers, ex­cept when they are care­tak­ers.

The aim, he said, is to form a com­mit­tee by Septem­ber that will over­see the pub­lic de­bate on the con­sti­tu­tional re­view and present a com- pre­hen­sive pro­posal by spring next year.

The left­ist leader said the con­sti­tu­tional re­view will mark a break with the post-dic­ta­tor­ship era whose “bank­ruptcy” and “de­feat” is re­spon­si­ble for the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial woes to­day.

“The an­swer to to­day’s prob­lems, the new chal­lenges and the new po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity” is to pro­ceed to a new po­lit­i­cal changeover, he said.

In re­marks that harked backed to the “Change” slo­gan that char­ac­ter­ized the rise to power of in­flu­en­tial So­cial­ist leader An­dreas Pa­pan­dreou in the 80s, Tsipras said that “we Greeks must be­come the change we want” and urged peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the pub­lic de­bate that will “lead to a new Greece.”

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