Greek Parliament tables amendment to exclude electoral candidates with serious crimes

Greek Parliament 300

An amendment was tabled to the Greek Parliament by the Interior Ministry on Thursday to change the conditions for drafting ballot combinations of individual candidates or party coalitions running in national elections who have been sentenced for serious crimes.

The amendment, which expands the Criminal Law provisions on electoral candidates, is expected to be debated and voted on in the plenary session on Tuesday.

It was included as a rider to an EU directive (2020/1828 of the European Commission and the Council of November 20, 2020) on consumer protections being incorporated into Greek law.

According to the provisions of the draft amendment, every party running independently or within a coalition must have been founded legally, and its top officials and managing committee members must not have received sentences for criminal acts, whether in civil or military courts.

In addition, the amendment clarifies that the candidates actually elected must exercise power themselves, instead of the true power in a party being exercised by someone behind the scenes.

Specifically, it cautions this "in the sense that another individual - other than the person officially holding the position of president, general secretary, member of the managing committee, or a legal representative - appears through specific actions to exercise the management of the party, or to have placed a proxy leadership, or to have the leading political position in terms of the electorate."

The amendment also includes the obligation that "the organization and action of a party serves the free operation of democratic rule," and in this respect takes into account any past sentencing of deputies, founding members, or former presidents for earlier crimes.

PM's comment

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the amendment tabled in parliament on Thursday about blocking convicted criminals from running in elections as formal or shadow heads of political party formations.

"As of now," tweeted Mitsotakis, "groups whose actual leader is someone who is a criminal will not be able to participate in the electoral process."

The premier added that "this will obviously be judged by the country's Supreme Court, which - according to the constitution - is tasked with announcing the candidate parties."

The prime minister also emphasized that it is "a very important provision for the protection of democracy from criminal organisations and individuals. A provision similar to one (is) already in effect in several European countries, and aims to protect normalcy and constitutional freedoms."

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