Greek politicians break the mold by choosing the first female president

Greek politicians elected their country’s first female president, with an overwhelming majority voting in favor of high court judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Speaking after being formally informed of the parliament’s vote, Sakellaropoulou said she would aim for the “widest possible consensus” during the course of her duties.

In his first comments as president-elect, the judge noted the “difficult conditions and challenges of the 21st century, including the financial crisis, climate change, mass movement of populations and the resulting humanitarian crisis, state erosion by right and all sorts of inequalities and exclusions “.

President of Greece

The country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has appointed Sakellaropoulou as a non-partisan candidate who would enjoy broad support from across the political spectrum.

All the main parties voted in favor of the appointment, with Sakellaropoulou elected for the most part ceremonial with a vote of 261-33, well above the 200 votes required.

Six politicians were absent.

Greece has a historically low number of women in senior political positions and Mitsotakis has been criticized for selecting an almost male cabinet after winning the general election in July 2019.

In the current Greek cabinet, all but one of the 18 senior positions are held by men.

Speaking after the vote, Mitsotakis described 63-year-old Sakellaropoulou as “a great jurist, a great judicial personality that unites all the Greeks from the moment this procedure started”.

He said he tried to nominate a candidate who would “symbolize the youth of the Greek nation, and I’m happy that the result confirmed that on big issues, we can finally agree.”

European officials congratulated Sakellaropoulou, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who welcomed the election of Greece’s first female president in a tweet stating that the country “is advancing towards a new era of ‘equality”.

European Council chief Charles Michel also tweeted the congratulations, saying it was “a great signal to elect the Republic’s first female head of state.”

Sakellaropoulou, who heads the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative tribunal, will begin his five-year term in March from 2018, when the term of the current president, conservative political veteran Prokopis Pavlopoulos ends.

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