Greece The Presidency
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
The president is the principal link among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. He or she is insulated from direct political pressures by virtue of being elected by open ballot (since 1986) of the legislative Assembly (the Vouli). The presidential term is five years, and the maximum number of terms is two.
A candidate for the presidency must have a Greek father, have been a Greek citizen for at least five years, be at least forty years of age, and be entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. To be elected, an individual must receive a two-thirds majority in parliament (200 votes) on the first and second ballots, or, if no such majority is reached, a three-fifths majority (180 votes) on a third ballot. Failure to elect a president on the third round results in the dissolution of the Assembly within ten days and the holding of new elections within forty days. The new Assembly must begin immediately the process of electing a president. In this election, a three-fifths majority is required on the first ballot, an absolute majority (151 votes) on the second, and a simple majority on the third. Should the presidency be vacated at any time, the Assembly must meet within ten days to elect a successor for a full term. If the president is incapacitated, presidential duties are temporarily assumed by the speaker of the Assembly.
In 1985, as Karamanlis's first presidential term was ending and a presidential election approached, the rival PASOK government argued for expansion of the powers of the Assembly at the expense of the president, who was characterized as having excessive prerogatives under the 1975 constitution. The amendments passed in 1986 actually did not change the prescribed functions of the Assembly; instead, they simply shifted powers from the president to the office of the prime minister, leaving the former with largely ceremonial duties.
The presidency still retains numerous ceremonial functions. The president represents Greece in international relations and, with the concurrence of the Assembly, declares war and concludes agreements of peace, alliance, and participation in international organizations. The president also is the head of the armed forces, but actual command is exercised by the government. Much of the president's power in relation to the Assembly is limited by the constitutional provision that most presidential acts must be countersigned by the appropriate cabinet ministers. The president may be impeached if charges against him or her are signed by at least one-third of the members of the Assembly and subsequently approved by at least two-thirds of the total membership. A special ad hoc court, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, would then try the president.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece The Presidency information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece The Presidency should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.