Tsipras govt ‘volte-face’ on appointing high court justices before July 7 elex; requests consensus from Mitsotakis, ND

30 May 2019
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The SYRIZA government’s justice minister on Thursday addressed a letter to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis calling for consensus by the latter’s center-right party over the appointment of new top judicial officials in the country, and ahead of the July 7 snap election.

A political firestorm, even more intense than usual in Greece’s turbulent political landscape, erupted this week over speculation that the now beleaguered Tsipras government intends to appoint the supreme court president, the high court’s court’s chief prosecutor and other high-ranking judicial officials before the snap July 7 election.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras announced his intent to resign and declare early elections on Sunday evening, in the wake of a disastrous European Parliament election result for his hard left party. While the earliest date was June 30, the following Sunday, July 7, was subsequently picked, generating speculation that the outgoing government wanted to appoint justices and possibly pass other last-minute and “clientist”-flavored legislation.

Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou maintained that there is no constitutional or legal obstacle for the current government to nominate and then ratify – via a slim Parliament majority – justices for the top positions.

“… nevertheless, acknowledging that a political issue has arisen … (and considering there’s a) joint institutional obligation to avoid the impression that the selection of the heads of high courts in the country comprises a ‘pledge of loyalty to any government’ … the next president and top prosecutor of the supreme court and the three vice-presidents of the Council of State should be nominated by the Cabinet with the agreement of the main opposition (party), thereby honoring the judicial officials that have already been pre-selected, and simultaneously, sending a strong message of consensus vis-a-vis the constitutionally self-evident concept of respect for the independent judiciary.”

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