Mitsotakis calls for ‘leaner’ constitution; non-profit, non-state universities in Greece

7 November 2018

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday unveiled his center-right party’s proposals for constitutional revision, a subject abruptly revisited by the leftist-rightist government last month, and with general elections now less than a year away.

In ramping up his criticism of the Tsipras government, Mitsotakis said his poll-leading party will not allow any “revisionary populism,” while calling on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to stop acting as the “leftist Orban of the Mediterranean” – a reference to outspoken Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.

He called SYRIZA party’s proposals for constitutional revision “dangerous”, and also reiterated his demand that a recent resignation letter by former foreign minister Nikos Kotzias be released to the public.

“It smacks of political arrogance for those that denigrated the referendum institution in 2015 to now propose an expansion of the institution,” Mitsotakis said, while saying it is a “joke” to promise constitutional guarantees for energy as a public good when the current government is privatizing the Public Power Corp. (PPC).

In terms of actual proposals, the pro-reform Mitsotakis called for a “leaner” constitution, with the establishment of a full (four-year) election cycle and precluding the dissolution of Parliament in case of a failure by the latter to elect a president of the republic. ND’s proposal is for the now ceremonial head of state to be elected by popular vote if a Parliament majority is not found.

In his most prominent and widely expected proposal, Mitsotakis reiterated his and ND’s support for the establishment of non-profit, non-state universities in the country – something currently prohibited by Article XVI of the Greek constitution.

“We are leaving behind us ideological obsessions, ones that lead to huge economic losses for Greek families, and who prevent the country from becoming a protagonist in the education sector in SE Europe and the Mediterranean,” he said.

Turning to the timely issue dominating the foreign policy agenda, the provisional Prespa accord, he said the only way to prevent its ratification by Parliament is to declare a snap election.

General elections must be held in Greece no later than early October 2019.

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