05/02/2010 - Results
Carolos Papoulias was re-elected almost unanimously President of the Greek Republic on 3rd February by the members of the Vouli
, the only Chamber in Parliament. The outgoing Head of State whose re-election seemed to be formality since no rival had come forward to stand against him and he also had the support of MPs from both the main political parties – Prime Minister George Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and New Democracy led by Antonis Samaras – won 266 votes (out of 298, 2 MPs were absent during the voting) in the 1st round of voting. The 160 PASOK MPs and the 91 ND MPs gave him their vote as did 15 members of the People's Orthodox Alarm (LAOS).
Carolos Papoulias thereby became the President to be elected with the greatest ease in Greece since the end of the monarchy in 1975.
The Communist Party (KKE) announced on 29th January that its members would place blank voting slips in the ballot box when the time came. This choice was not supposed to be against Carolos Papoulias himself but was in protest against the fact that "according to the Constitution the head of State has to co-sign laws and decisions against the people". The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) fell in line with the KKE's position.
After his re-election Carolos Papoulias wanted to stress the immense responsibility it was "to take on the role of President in a country in a critical time for the Greek economy.
" He asked his fellow countrymen and the State "to do everything in their power to overcome the crisis. We have to improve the efficiency of the Greek institutions. A fair, strong and effective State can turn the present situation round and offer better opportunities to Greece. We must all work hard towards this historic transition and stand together. I am joining you in this major task,
" he added.
On 3rd February the European Commission approved the savings plan put forward by Athens but believing that Greece had not respected its duty in presenting reliable budgetary statistics it said that it was placing the country under surveillance and that it was launching an infringement procedure. The European Commission asked Athens for more details with regard to the fiscal measures it intends to set in place and to lay out the timetable for the implementation of these. Finally the community authorities have asked Greece to give account with regard to the implementation of these measures on a regular basis.
The presidential office is honorary in Greece. The revision of the constitution in 1986 witnessed the withdrawal of the Head of State's right to dissolve parliament leaving him with a purely representative role. A candidate is declared elected in the 1st round if he wins 2/3 of the MPs votes i.e. 200. This enhanced majority which is designed to encourage candidates who can win a consensus is obligatory in the first two rounds of voting. In the 3rd round a candidate is elected if he wins 3/5th of the votes. If no candidate is elected after three rounds Parliament is forced to dissolve and the Prime Minister has to convene early general elections.
In September 2009 Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis (ND) justified his initiative to organize early general elections because of the "blackmail
" on the part of PASOK with regard to the future presidential election since it intimated that it might oppose the election of a compromise President to force the failure of the presidential election and thereby achieve the dissolution of Parliament and in fine early general elections.
Born in Ioannina, the capital of Epirus (North West) nearly 81 years ago Carolos Papoulias studied law in Athens, Milan and Cologne before becoming a lawyer from 1963 to 1981. An anti-Nazi resistant during the war he lived in exile in Germany during the colonels' dictatorship (1967-1974, Greece was governed by a military junta led by Georgios Papadopoulos) but continued to condemn the far right dictatorship in the media. Co-founder of PASOK he became an MP in 1977 (a post he occupied until 2000 when he chose not to stand for re-election) and was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister by Andreas Papandreou in 1981.
He was Foreign Minister from 1985-1989 and from 1993-1996, in the governments led by Andreas Papandreou with whom he works closely. In this job he defended Serbia's position in the 1990's in the wars that tore former Yugoslavia apart trying on a number of occasions to serve as an intermediary between Slobodan Milosevic and the international community. Carolos Papoulias, a figure of consensus and is one of the most popular politicians in Greece. According to a recent poll he achieved an 82% popularity rating amongst his countrymen.