Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is determined to proceed with the long-planned Constitutional changes in the country. Seeking a broader political and social consensus, he calls on opposition parties to support the ambitious plan.
“The initiative to revise the Constitution is a mature demand, not only of Greek society but also the political world,” Tsipras wrote in his letter to opposition leaders.
“The new architecture of the political system, an extension of institutions of popular participation, the distinct roles of the state and the church , the upgrading of the rule of law, the change to provisions concerning criminal liability for members of the government and the state’s institutional shielding of corruption, along with the strengthening of the protection of common goods,” Tsipras wrote in his letter among others.
The first and second pillars of the Constitutional revision refer to changes regarding the elections law -simple majority-, disconnection of President election from dissolving the Parliament, partial increase of Presidential responsibilities, lawmakers’ immunity, law for ministers’ responsibility, limitation of parliamentary terms for MPs – up to two consecutive terms -, that the Prime Minister is elected member of the Parliament, that a non-confidence motion is accompanied by a proposal for a new prime minister.
The third pillar is the institutionalization of direct democracy through strengthening of referendums, ratification of international treaties, and initiatives by the people.
The fourth pillar concerns the relations between the State and the Church. These changes include the promotion of the political oath for government members when they take office. But also a certain wording about the “neutrality” of the state without changing the character of “Orthodoxy as predominant religion,” however, with an interpretative statement that this is not at the expense of other religions.
The fifth pillar concerns the protection of social and collective rights and common goods like water and electricity.
The constitutional revision has been in the focus of the government planning since 2016, however, the Prime Minister wanted that the country exits the bailout agreements first.
The procedure to revise the Constitution is long and it will be executed by the next parliament that will emerge after the parliamentary elections in 2019. However, it can be initiated now and is certainly a challenge also for opposition parties, especially the main opposition.
To Tsipras’ letter, Conservative New Democracy responded that it supports the revision thus adding that all articles introduced by government and opposition parties should be left open to revision, and the Greek people should decide on the direction of the changes through their vote in the upcoming elections.”
Revision of one article of the Constitution needs an enhanced majority of 180 votes.
PS Based on ND proposal, I wonder whether we will cast out votes for political parties or for Constitutional changes. Unless we are deeply religious therefore our decision will be easy and against the party that wants the Church to be pushed aside even if only a tiny bit.