ATHENS – Already dealing with Turkish provocations and threats from Iran not to let the United States use military bases on Greece if there’s a conflict, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is said to be still mulling who to nominate for the country’s symbolic President.
That position has been held for the past five years by his own New Democracy’s Prokopis Pavlopoulos – who, in keeping with tradition in which ruling parties usually pick a neutral candidate or from a rival – was the choice of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.
Selection of a President requires approval by 200 or more of the 300 Members of Parliament if two ballots are needed, dropping to 180 on the third and then a simple majority of 151 after that. New Democracy has 158 seats.
SYRIZA said it would support the renomination of Pavlopoulos, who hasn’t raised too many waves during his tenure in a position that has little real authority, but Mitsotakis had reportedly been looking for another candidate, possibly a woman.
Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said Jan. 13 that Mitsotakis wants to select a person who enjoys broad acceptance among political parties to be the next President but wouldn’t provide details.
In a previous statement, SYRIZA slammed Mitsotakis for not yet putting forth his choice for the position, with Pavlopoulos’ term set to expire Feb. 15. at the nomination must not be held hostage by what it said was the Conservatives “in-party power struggles and contradictions,” over who should get the cherished job.
Mitsotakis told reporters he was “close to a decision,” adding that the chances of proposing a female candidate were 50 percent after he faced harsh criticism for having a Cabinet that’s heavily male.
Earlier, it was reported that he was considering a politician in line with his thinking instead of someone neutral or from another party, breaking with tradition.
New Democracy would need the support of political rivals for whomever is nominated and former party leader and then Premier Antonis Samaras had to call snap elections that saw him defeated in January, 2015 after he put up his own Vice-President.
Sources close to Mitsotakis who weren’t named told the newspaper Kathimerini that the troubles with Turkey could influence his decision with the choice needed to be made before the end of January.
They said he wants the next President, who holds a largely ceremonial role, to have a background “in coordination” with his own and to show loyalty to the government in foreign policy. It wasn’t said if that means he will tap a New Democracy member.
Mitsotakis, it was said, also wants someone not tied to the economic and austerity crisis with Greece beginning a slow recovery after nearly a decade of woe and misery.