Greek lawmakers approved nine major constitutional amendments which passed 28 out of a total of 49 proposals by all the parties on Monday evening, including a proposal allowing Greeks abroad to vote from their country of residence.
All parties, apart from the main opposition SYRIZA party, agreed to ease the voting process for diasporans and article 54, the law pertaining to the voting rights, was passed with 212 votes in favour, 84 against and 1 abstention. Now, Greeks residing abroad have the right to vote for state deputies, including candidates proposed by and representing Greeks abroad.
The Greek Communist Party and MeRA25 finally voted in favour of the bill despite their criticism in weeks prior to parliamentary vote, and SYRIZA had previously agreed to the changes in principle.
New amendments mean:
- Lawmakers will no longer have immunity and can now be charged for criminal offences if a minimum of 30 deputies support a proposal for the prosecution of a minister with the creation of a parliamentary committee through a preliminary investigation;
- members of independent authorities will be elected with a three-fifth majority in the conference of presidents instead of a four-fifth majority;
- the voting process for the Greek president has been refined to include options if three rounds of voting fail to elect a president meaning that there will be a dissolution of Parliament if a head of state is not voted;
- an agreement on a minimum income “to ensure dignified living conditions for all citizens”;
- the public can propose laws for Parliament as long as 500,000 signatures are collected. These bills will not relate to issues of economic and foreign policy or defence.
Amendments not passed included the revision of a proposal to separate the Greek state from the Church which had been put forth by the previous SYRIZA government in 2018. The move was rejected by the ruling conservative New Democracy party.
The New Democracy’s wish to ban the operation of private universities was shot down by SYRIZA.
This was the fourth time that changes have attempted to be made to the country’s Constitution since 1975 when the first Constitution of the post-dictatorship era was put into force.