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Gov’t consideration to change again the electoral law meets sharp criticism

Greece’s conservative government of New Democracy is considering to change the electoral law ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections next year based on the polls-based assumptions that no party will be able to form a single party government. The change issue has been referred to on media by several government ministers and lawmakers, including the sister of PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, an MP.

Critics speak of “anti-institutional behavior” because ND changed the law already in 2020 and plans to do it again in the same legislative period.

The current electoral law is based on proportional representation.

According to scenarios leaked to media by government officials, the government is considering to bring back the 50-seat bonus for the first party.

Another scenario entails a new “tiered” bonus starting from 20 additional seats to the first party that gets 20% of the vote and from there onward every half percentage point above 25% will get an additional seat. This way, a single party government would be achieved at around 36%, compared to close to 38.5% to 39% under the current system.

A third scenario foresees an extra bonus of one seat for every one percentage point between the parties. If the first and second parties are six points apart, the first party would get an extra six seats, in addition to the ones it is entitled to from the bonus.

Note that a new elections law cannot be implemented in the upcoming elections but in the following ones.

Based on public opinion polls in the last couple of months, ND even if will be winner is not expected to be able to form a single party government.

Coalition Gov’t options

Thoughts to change the election law were triggered by the recent wiretapping scandal where the National Intelligence Service “legally” had under a 3-month surveillance PASOK/KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis in autumn 2021. The scandal smashed ND’s options for a coalition government with the Greek socialist party, even though at least half of PASOK eye to the right-wing.

Andoulakis has already warned that he will not  enter governance coalition with Mitsotakis on the ND lead, however, also neither with SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras.

A coalition of PASOK/SYRIZA would hardly be an option, anyway, as both parties are not expecting to achieve strong percentages that would allow a strong government with over 151 seats.

At the same time, nobody believes that a coalition ND/SYRIZA is possible.

Change of the electoral law in the second round of elections, could emerge a) ND/PASOK coalition with a resigned Mitsotakis or b) ND coalition with the nationalists of Greek Solution.

Sharp Criticism

Professor of constitutional law Xenophon Kontiadis sharply criticized the government for the possibility of changing the electoral law. “If this is not anti-institutional behavior, then what could be?” the professor of Public Law at Panteio and President of the Themistocles and Dimitris Tsatsos Foundation wrote on a public post.

“If the polls now show that the 37% required for a self-reliance government are not achievable for the ruling party, or that the government partnerships are not what it would expect, is it institutional behavior to proceed with a new law change?” Kontiadis pointed out

Referring to statements by government officials who spoke to media about “toxicity in the political climate” and “difficulties to form coalitions,” the Law professor noted:

I wonder what the above might mean? That depending on the “climate” the electoral law is modified? The government changed the electoral law relatively recently, in 2020, reintroducing the first party bonus in order to facilitate governability. If the polls now show that the 37% required for self-reliance is not achievable for the ruling party, or that the government partnerships are not what it would expect, is it institutional behavior to proceed with a new law change?

But this exact practice was not practiced by constitutionalists, political scientists and the respective opposition for decades, until the constitutional review of 2001, which predicted that if the new electoral law did not gather a broad majority of 200 deputies, the political situation. If this does not constitute anti-institutional behavior, then what could qualify as such?”

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One comment

  1. I think the unvaccinated over 60s should be exempt from monthly financial penalty if they vote ND.