A media fever has reigned in the past few weeks in Greece over the choice of who may be proposed as President of the Republic, although the official announcement of the proposed candidate is several days away.
Analysts and reporters are racing to outdo one another in educated guesses — and wild guesses — over who will be the Presidential choice of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Names are dropping left and right, many of them quickly becoming targets of criticism from different sides of the political spectrum.
Some of the names are even making headlines already.
The Prime Minister is holding his cards close to his chest, and there have been no leaks of names from Maximos Mansion to the press. Not yet, anyway.
PM Mitsotakis has already announced that the person he will propose will not only be widely accepted but will honor the position.
Far from just a ceremonial procedure, the issue of choosing a candidate for the Greek Presidency is a crucial one, since the failure to elect a President of the Republic after three ballots leads to the dissolution of the existing Parliament and national elections.
In December of 2014, the failure of the New Democracy-PASOK coalition to elect their proposed candidate after three voting sessions did indeed lead to the dissolution of Parliament and national elections in January of 2015 — which SYRIZA won.
After the new government was formed, the leftist SYRIZA coalition proposed former Minister of the Interior Prokopios Pavlopoulos, who belongs to the conservative New Democracy Party. Ιn March of 2015, Pavlopoulos received an impressive 233 votes in the 300-seat Parliament and was soon after named the 7th President of the Hellenic Republic.
It should be noted that MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis — who was not president of New Democracy at the time — abstained from that ballot. He later explained that he was certain that Pavlopoulos would win, but he considered him inadequate for the position and did not want to vote against him as a matter of principle.
Alexis Tsipras, the president of main opposition SYRIZA coalition, has proposed the renewal of Pavlopoulos’ presidential term, which expires in March. Given Mitsotakis’ stated opinion of Pavlopoulos, however, it is very unlikely that his name will be on the ballot.
So far, it is said by sources close to Maximos Mansion that the Prime Minister would like to see an exceptional Greek who is not a politician sitting in the place of honor in the presidential mansion. Additionally, that individual could even be a woman, the same sources say.
Speculation abounds, with new names appearing in the headlines every day — and most of them disappearing the next.
The role of the President of the Hellenic Republic
The President of the Hellenic Republic regulates the functions of the institutions of the Republic according to Article 30, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution. However, he (or she) holds no executive powers.
The institution of the Presidency of the Republic was established in 1975, one year after the restoration of democracy in Greece following the seven-year military dictatorship, which lasted from 1967 to 1974.
The President is elected by Parliament and serves a term of five years. He or she has the right to re-election only once. The elected President takes an oath before Parliament before assuming his or her duties, the form of which is laid down in the Constitution.
The President of the Republic is elected through a vote by roll call in a plenary session of parliament which is specially convened for this purpose.
In order to be elected, a two-thirds majority of the total number of Members of Parliament must vote for a candidate, which means 200 votes. If the said majority is not obtained, the ballot should be repeated after five days, the same majority being required.
If once again the required majority is not reached, the vote will be repeated after five days and the person who receives 180 votes, or three-fifths of the total number of MPs, will be elected President of the Republic of Greece.