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Amendment to exclude electoral candidates with criminal past at the Parliament

An amendment setting out conditions for drafting ballot combinations of individual candidates or party coalitions running in national elections that excludes candidates who have been sentenced for serious crimes was tabled in Greek Parliament by the Interior ministry on Thursday.

The Greek government saw the necessity of tabling such an amendment after neo-Nazi Golden Dawn convict Ilias Kasidiaris set up a party using his cousin bearing the same name as leader and run his elections campaign form prison.

The amendment, which expands the Criminal Law provisions on electoral candidates, is expected to be debated and voted on in the plenary session on Tuesday. It was included as a rider to an EU directive (2020/1828 of the European Commission and the Council of November 20, 2020) on consumer protections being incorporated into Greek law.

According to the provisions of the draft amendment, every party running independently or within a coalition must have been founded legally, and its top officials and managing committee members must not have received sentences for criminal acts, whether in civil or military courts.

In addition, the amendment clarifies that the candidates actually elected must exercise power themselves, instead of the true power in a party being exercised by someone behind the scenes.

Specifically, it cautions this “in the sense that another individual – other than the person officially holding the position of president, general secretary, member of the managing committee, or a legal representative – appears through specific actions to exercise the management of the party, or to have placed a proxy leadership, or to have the leading political position in terms of the electorate.”

The amendment also includes the obligation that “the organization and action of a party serves the free operation of democratic rule,” and in this respect takes into account any past sentencing of deputies, founding members, or former presidents for earlier crimes.

The question is now which party will profit from excluding Kasidiaris’ party from the elections as in recent public opinion polls it appeared to gather over the entry margin of 3%.

It certainly won’t be ruling New Democracy and all parties that will vote for the amendment. Most possible his voters will move to marginal parties right from ND.

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