“The devil is hidden in detail” – That’s a wise saying applicable to all forms of agreements. he Eurogroup ministers said in a joint statement referring to second bailout for Greece, among others that:
“The Eurogroup in this context welcomes the intention of the Greek authorities to introduce over the next two months in the Greek legal framework a provision ensuring that priority is granted to debt servicing payments. This provision will be introduced in the Greek constitution as soon as possible. “
How soon is a Constitutional amendment in Greece possible? Not “as soon as possible” as Greece’s lenders would most probably prefer, say experts I talked to.
Conditions for Constitutional Amendment
According to Greek constitution, an amendment of the constitution can take place after two consecutive legislation terms and not before five years have past from the latest amendment. As the Greek parliament passed an amendment in May 27, 2008, a new amendment before 2013 is hardly achievable.
– 50 MPs have to propose the need for a Constitutional Amendment. The amendment proposal has to be approved at two parliament votings, which will take place in one month form each other. The approval needs ‘enhanced majority’ i.e. 3/5 of the MPs or 180 MPs have to vote in favor, although some provisions can pass with the ‘absolute majority’ of 151 votes in the parliament fo 300. With the parliament voting, the provisions to be amended will be determined.
– The proposal for a constitutional amendments can be voted by the current parliament, but a new parliament that will come into force after elections is needed to pass the amendment.
-The new parliament can pass the amendment during its first session after the elections. An enhanced majority of 3/5 is needed for the amendment to pass, that is: 180 votes in favor.
-No new amendment is allowed before five years have passed after the latest one. That is not before 2013.
Necessity for Elections:
According to Greek Constitution, elections have to take place between the amendment proposal and the amendment voting. This is important because ‘it activates the principle of popular sovereignty’ and allows indirectly the people to participate in the amendment and revision process.’
The current Parliament could pass the amendment proposal within 1-1,5 month as Papademos coalition government partners have an enhanced majority of at least 184 votes (PASOK 130 seats, ND 64 seats). Should the elections take place towards end of April or beginning of May, the new parliament will have to wait for almost a year to pass the Eurogroup imposed provision. However as the Greek voters are angry at the two big parties that ruled the country for almost four decades, who can say in advance what will the political balances in the new parliament?
or Will our lawmakers find some ‘secret window’ in otder to pass the Eurogroup provision? In this country everything is possible… However, we should stick to what the Eurogroup statement says. It speaks of “will be introduced”. And there is a long way to go from introduction to implementation.
Great thanks to Vasilis Sotiropoulos from elawyer.blogspot.com