Several constitutional revisions passed in first-step of ratification; president's elex separated from dissolution of Parliament

Thursday, 14 March 2019 21:51
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A bundle of proposals for constitutional revision, tabled by the leftist Tsipras government, passed with a simple majority of deputies in Parliament on Thursday, meaning that in order to make it into the constitution the next Parliament plenum to arise from a coming election will have to ratify revisions with 180+1 votes.

One proposal, however, finally separating the election of a president of a republic from the dissolution of Parliament was passed by 224 deputies out of the 300, meaning that only a 150+1 vote will be necessary in the next legislature.

Failure by then Parliament deputies to elect the wholly figure-head president of the republic in early 2015 caused a snap election, which SYRIZA duly won. At the time, the hard left party and assorted other anti-bailout grouping and political leaders, on the left and far right, refused to vote for a candidate, thereby causing the early election.

Conversely, the Tsipras government intent to revise article 3 of the constitution, which defines Church-state relations, and to enshrine "religious neutrality" by the state was passed by 156 deputies. As a result, 180+1 MPs will have to approve the revision in the next Parliament.

 Tsipras and his mostly SYRIZA government passed - in the first stage of constitutional revision - a handful of proposals mainly aimed at left-wing voters, such as establishing a simple representational system for general and local government elections; the state neutrality vis-a-vis religion; outlaw discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, as well as allowing for referendums based on citizens' petitions and "popular" legislative initiatives.

Laws against discrimination already exist on the law books, although the current government wants to include them in the already voluminous 120-article Greek constitution.

A handful of revisions submitted by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party were also approved.

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