Gov’t can’t get supermajority for electoral law after GD walks out

20 July 2016
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The coalition’s slim chances of clinching a supermajority in the vote on the new electoral system on Thursday appeared to vanish completely on Tuesday when far-right Golden Dawn said it would not take part in the ballot.

The extremist party’s decision means that unless New Democracy or PASOK and To Potami have a last-minute change of heart, the government cannot garner more than 179 votes, which is well short of the 200 needed for a qualified majority that would allow the new system to be applied straight away rather than after the next elections.

As things stand, apart from the 144 SYRIZA and nine Independent Greeks lawmakers, the only other members of the House that intend to vote for the draft legislation are 15 from the Communist Party and nine from the Centrists’ Union, as well as two independent deputies.

The government is proposing that the 50-seat bonus for the party that wins the general election to be scrapped completely and for the voting age to be lowered to 17. It also suggests keeping the threshold for entering Parliament at 3 percent.

New Democracy, PASOK and To Potami have criticized the abolition of the 50-seat bonus, arguing that it would lead to political instability as it makes it much more difficult for the election winner to form a government, while also requiring wider cooperation among competing parties for an administration to be formed.

If the bill – which was submitted to the plenary on Tuesday – only garners a simple majority, the bonus will remain in place for the next general elections.

This means that the next government will have a chance to pass a new law, preventing SYRIZA’s proposal from being implemented, if it can secure a supermajority.

The reduced voting age does not need a qualified majority, meaning that 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the next national ballot should the proposal be approved by at least 151 MPs on Thursday night.

With the vote on the electoral system out of the way, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to turn his attention to making changes to the Greek Constitution.

Sources said he is due to set out some ideas on Monday. An aide to the prime minister said Tsipras would not make specific proposals but would pose questions about the kind of constitution Greeks want.

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