Greek PM Aims for Better Fairer Democracy - The Best from Greece
Posted on: 15/Oct/2009
Greece’s 300 deputies attended the swearing-in ceremony at Parliament yesterday. Ex-Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was applauded by his party’s MPs on his first public appearance since the October 4 election loss.
The new PASOK government plans to enhance the role that Parliament plays in decision making and wants to change the electoral law to create smaller constituencies, similar to the system that operates in Germany.
In a speech to the party’s 160 MPs yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou set out his vision for a fairer, more democratic Greece that will be free of corruption.
“We have been given a mandate to turn the page,” said the premier. Papandreou identified “an attitude of favoritism and clientelism” as the most serious problem in Greek politics, leading to “corruption, a lack of transparency and disregard for laws.”
The prime minister said that he would make it his government’s priority to change the current electoral law of reinforced proportionality. “The new law will be a strong blow against slush money and is a proposal that safeguards the independence and dignity of deputies,” he said.
Currently, there are 57 electoral districts, where parties draw up a list of candidates from which voters can pick up to four. Papandreou believes this system allows MPs to be beholden to constituents who offer their support in return for favors. Instead, the prime minister is proposing a system of 160 to 170 single-seat districts, which will equate to about 50,000 voters per constituency. The first party past the post will still get a bonus of 40 seats. PASOK is hoping to convince New Democracy to back the law so that it can get the votes of the 200 deputies that are needed for it to apply as of the next general elections.
The government also wants to boost the role of Parliament. The premier said that every draft law will go through a period of public consultation and a change to parliamentary regulations will mean that no amendments to a bill can be tabled after the discussion of the draft law has ended. He added that any changes to laws would be submitted to Parliament as if they were completely new legislation to allow for a proper debate.
The House will also have the final say on large state contracts, including arms procurement deals and it will also hold hearings to approve the appointment of top judges.
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