The vote on the amendment in the Parliament will take place next Tuesday, as it was incorporated into the bill of the Ministry of Development
The amendment of the Ministry of the Interior with the conditions for forming a combination in the parliamentary elections was submitted to the Parliament. The amendment is expected to be discussed and voted on in the plenary session of the Parliament next Tuesday, as it was incorporated into the draft law of the Ministry of Development entitled “Incorporation of Directive (EU) 2020/1828 of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 25, 2020 “regarding representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and for the repeal of Directive 2009/22/EC’, strengthening consumer protection, regulatory framework for the aging of wines and other urgent provisions to enhance development’.
With the amendment, which is entitled “Right to form combinations in parliamentary elections – Replacement of par. 1 of article 32 of Law No. 26/2012” the following is provided for:
“1. Either combinations of candidates from a single party, or combinations of a coalition of more than one collaborating parties, or coalitions of independent candidates, or individual candidates take part in the parliamentary elections. In order to draw up a combination, the following conditions must be met cumulatively:
a) The party must be legally established.
b) The president, the general secretary, the members of the management committee, the legal representative and the actual leadership of the party have not been sentenced to any degree of imprisonment for the offenses of chapters 1-6 of the Second Book of the Criminal Code, or to any sentence for offenses under the Military Penal Code punishable by life imprisonment, or to life imprisonment for any other offence. The deprivation of the right to draw up combinations, according to the present case, applies for the duration of the imposed sentence and is calculated from the day after the day of the final conviction. The imposition or non-imposition of the penalty or its statute of limitations has no influence on the calculation of the above period of time. In the context of this article, real leadership means that a person other than the one who formally holds the position of president, general secretary, member of the governing committee or legal representative by specific acts appears to exercise party management, or has placed virtual leadership , or to have the leading political role towards the electorate.
c) The organization and action of the party to serve the free functioning of the democratic state. For the assessment of the assistance of this condition, any conviction to any degree of candidates for parliament, or founding members, or acting presidents for the offenses and the penalties of the first paragraph of c. b) is taken into account.
In the case of a coalition of parties, the above conditions must be met for each of the parties that make up the coalition.
The compliance with the present conditions is checked ex officio by the First Department of the Supreme Court. To aid his judgment, political parties and every voter have the right to submit a memorandum with documentary evidence until the day after the deadline of paragraph 1 of article 34.”
The Ministry of the Interior said:
“The freedom to establish and participate in a political party is a political right of Greeks. But, the constitutional protection of the right to establish and participate in political parties does not include, as a constitutional right, the participation of criminal organizations in parliamentary elections under the guise of a political party, as in the case of the holding of executive positions in political parties by persons who have been convicted of criminal crimes of particular infamy.
The plan that we submitted to the Parliament steps on an already existing provision (article 92 of Law 4804/2021), which was voted on the initiative of the government with a large majority in the Parliament. The original provision provided that political parties whose president, general secretary, members of the governing committee and legal representative have been sentenced to prison for certain offenses against the state do not have the right to form combinations. The added value brought by the current amendment covers those cases where the leadership of the party is virtual, i.e. “straw men” have been installed, but the real leadership is exercised by other persons who fall under the restrictions, i.e. have a criminal conviction.
The provision we are bringing is fully compatible with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
First, the provision does not violate the principle of proportionality because it does not prevent anyone who has been convicted of even serious crimes against the State from being a candidate for parliament, whether independent or with political parties, except that he is excluded if he is the actual leader of the party with which he participates in the elections .
Secondly, the Republic cannot be completely tolerant of its enemies. Those who devise it using it.
Thirdly, the free functioning of the democratic state is not served in the case of the formation of a “shell party”, which acts and functions as a criminal organization, on the one hand, when the party’s leadership group commits acts of high criminal indecency, as has been proven judicially , even at first instance, on the other hand, when the criminal conviction for specific offenses of parliamentary candidates, founding members and acting leaders of the party, demonstrates the failure to serve the free functioning of the democratic state.
Fourthly, as the Plenary Session of the CoE has highlighted (Decision 518/2015), linking the respect of the parties’ obligation to serve democracy, the joint legislator: “it is possible… within the framework of the principle of proportionality and respect for the right to legal protection according to article 20 par. 1 of the Constitution to establish negative conditions, which hinder the provision of state financial aid, not only for reasons related to the management of this aid on the part of the beneficiary party… but also for essential reasons, related to the general his action, which, according to article 29 par. 1 of the Constitution, must serve the free functioning of the democratic state.”
Fifth, the provision does not enter into an evaluation of the characteristics and ideology of the parties, which would open the bag of Aeolos, and would put the Areopagus in the position to evaluate the essence of the positions of the parties with the risk of excessively widening the restrictions.
In conclusion, with the regulation proposed by the government, a barrier is only placed on the participation in the elections of criminal organizations that appear in the garb of a political party. In particular, the existing regulation prohibiting participation in the leadership of a political party is extended to those who have been convicted of particularly discreditable crimes against the state, including not only the virtual leadership but also those who exercise the actual leadership of the party. In addition, when declaring combinations, any conviction of party officials for these offenses will be taken into account.
It is the duty of the local political forces to exhaust every constitutional possibility so that black pages of Greek political history do not return and those who seek democracy, taking advantage of the tolerance that democracy itself exhibits, are not given a foothold. It is the time of responsibility for all of us.”
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