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Greece - Presidential Election

Socialist Carolos Papoulias elected president of the Republic of Greece

Socialist Carolos Papoulias elected president of the Republic of Greece

08/02/2005 - Results

On 8th February, Carolos Papoulias became the 6th President of the Republic of Greece for a period of five years. Carolos Papoulias was the only candidate to succeed Costis Stephanopoulos and was elected in the first round of the election by 279 votes out of 296 voters. The members of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), a party from which the new President originates and those from New Democracy (ND), voted in his favour. The two other parties represented in Parliament, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos), who did not put forward a candidate, abstained. Four MP's were absent and therefore did not take part in the vote.

The President of the Hellenic Republic is elected by the Vouli, the only Chamber of Parliament. A candidate is declared elected in the first round of the election if he wins two thirds of the MP's votes i.e. 200. This enhanced majority, designed to encourage candidates that are able to win a wide consensus, is necessarily won during the first rounds of the vote. If this majority is not achieved Parliament is dissolved and the election of the President of the Republic by simple majority by the new Parliament is then possible during a third round of voting.

The candidate of the country's two main political parties – the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement and New Democracy - Carolos Papoulias became the best elected President of the Republic of Greece since the end of the monarchy in 1975. He succeeds the conservative Costis Stephanopoulos, elected in 1995 and re-elected in 2000 and who was not able to stand for a new mandate. "The President of the Hellenic Republic must be political figure of compromise who enjoys great recognition by society," declared Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis (ND) in December in justification of his appointment of Carolos Papoulias as candidate to the presidential position. "During his mandate as Foreign Minister Carolos Papoulias proved that he is a man of rare moderation and great experience," he added.

Born in Ioannina in the region of Epirus, 75 year-old Carolos Papoulias studied law in Athens, Milan and Cologne before becoming a lawyer. An anti-Nazi resistant in his youth, the new President of the Republic lived in exile in Germany during the Colonels' dictatorship (1967-1974). He was co-founder of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement and was elected MP in 1977 (a post he occupied until 2000); he was appointed Foreign Affairs Minister in 1981 by Andreas Papandreou, a position he then occupied between 1985 and 1989 and 1993 and 1996. In this post he defended the position of Serbia during the 1990's in the wars that tore former Yugoslavia apart, trying on several occasions to serve as an intermediary between President Slobodan Milosevic and the international community. Carolos Papoulias became president of the Foreign Affairs Commission within Parliament in 2000 and tried to persuade the Serb leader to give up power in exchange for exile in a foreign country or a guarantee of security within his own country. In 2001 the new President also condemned Slobodan Milosevic's referral to the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICCI).

In Greece the position of President is solely honorary. The constitutional revision of 1986 reduced the Head of State's powers considerably, notably in terms of the right to dissolve Parliament and his exclusion from any direct interference in the undertaking of national politics.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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