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Greek PM Tsipras presents proposals for new Constitution

Dialogue to be complete by Spring 2017

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras outlined his proposals for a Constitutional reform during his speech at an outdoor stage in the Parliamentary yard. Tsipras’s proposals included the direct voting of the President of the Greek Democracy by the electorate if he did not reach 200 votes in parliament; a reasonable expansion of the President’s powers; only members of Parliament could hold the Prime Minister’s office; a maximum of two 4-year tenures for MPs; Constitutional guarantee for proportional representation; a motion of censure could be brought forward only if a new government was in office; the gathering of 500,000 citizens’ signatures would lead to a compulsory referendum; and, the establishment of a constitutional court. In a stage background of large banners reading ‘New Constitution’, ’New Political change’ and ‘New Greece’, Tsipras offered nothing new during his speech, as he was compelled to drop the idea of the President being elected directly from the Greek citizenry, due to fears of internal party reactions against the idea. The SYRIZA faction called ’53+’ strongly opposed any idea of a direct election of the President by the public in a document submitted to the party, expressing concerns of the nature of Greece’s democracy becoming too Presidential-heavy. In his speech the Greek PM said a cycle of 42 years had closed since the restoration of democracy, in which social peace had been achieved, but also a state full of shortcomings had emerged. He claimed the target of reorganising the country’s productive capacity required a political and institutional reconstruction. ‘The only way to exit the crisis and is to end the old. With what led us to where we are. To change the state’, he said. Using catchy phrases like ‘From the people to the people, let’s define the new constitution for the People’, Tsipras promised to open a national dialogue on Constitutional reform from September with the establishment of a constitutional committee. ‘Our initial goal is to hold talks on reform in municipalities all across Greece with the participation of scientific and social groups, citizens’ movements and individual citizens’, he said. He added that Greek citizens could take part in the open conversation through a designated website online by submitting their proposals, while the second stage of the open public dialogue would involve all proposals being discussed in 13 open conventions in each region in Greece. The target is to complete the process by the Spring of 2017.