Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Focus

Greek parliament abolishes list system ahead of EU vote

  • Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras - a good result in the EU elections could give him enough leverage to call early elections (Photo: PIAZZA del POPOLO)

The Greek parliament on Thursday (27 February) approved a draft law introducing a series of amendments to regulations affecting the country's European and local elections to be held in May.

Modifications range from disenfranchising non-EU nationals in local elections, to changes in the European parliamentary elections voting procedure.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The main opposition party has lambasted the administration's moves as a "hopeless effort" to "avoid their coming defeat" at the European elections.

Critics say some of the new rules are a step toward the political territory of Golden Dawn, the increasingly popular anti-immigrant far-right party.

European elections are traditionally a way for voters to punish the ruling parties and voice their disenchantment with government policy.

This May's elections are expected to be a litmus test for the fragile coalition government, which is continuing to implement the country's austerity programme demanded by Greece's international creditors.

The amendments include the repeal of a law introduced in 2010 under George Papadreou's socialist government which allowed non-EU nationals to vote in municipal elections.

In 2010, when the previous local elections took place, 12,583 non-EU nationals were registered to vote.

The legislation, known as 'Ragoussis law' after the Interior minister of that time, allowed third country nationals and diaspora Greeks with valid residence permits to vote and stand as candidates in the elections.

The centre-right New Democracy party, which is at the helm of the coalition government, spearheaded the call for amendment by citing a ruling of the country's supreme administrative court which qualified the Ragoussi law as "unconstitutional".

Interior Minister Yannis Michelakis justified the government's move by arguing that it would remove the possibility of future court decisions annulling the local election outcome.

The opposition leftist party, Syriza, has branded the government's decision as an attempt to lure right-wing voters who might be thinking of voting for Golden Dawn.

Meanwhile, the government will also amend the country's voting procedure at the European elections – replacing the party list with the direct election of MEPs.

Analysts say that while the government's amendments can be considered as a move towards direct democracy they could also just be political manoeuvring.

"On the one hand, [the changes] can be considered a boost to direct democracy and better representation as people can choose candidates instead of just a party," said George Tzogopoulos from the Athens-based ELIAMEP think-tank.

"But on the other hand, they could also lead to clientelism again because candidates could try to establish a relationship with their voters to gain their support."

Earlier this month, the government also decided to change the date of the European elections to 25 May. This coincides with the second round of local government elections (the first round is on 18 May) where turnout is traditionally lower.

The EU elections – normally not a big draw for voters – have taken on an outsize role in the Greek political landscape.

A strong showing for left-wing Syriza, currently topping the polls, could give the party enough political leverage to force the government into snap elections.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia