Interior Minister Panos Skourletis yesterday confirmed the government’s determination to institute a proportional representation electoral system, thus doing away with the 50 parliamentary seat bonus that is now allotted to the top party in general elections.
Critics maintain that proportional representation will make the formation of governments exceptionally difficult, on the one hand because Greece lacks a coalition culture, and on the other because the constitutions gives parties less than two weeks to form a government, and if that period expires, repeat elections must be held.
“Proportional representation will be instituted. On that basis, we are already discussing ways to ensure a smooth transition from one electoral system to another,” Skourletis said.
“As for whether proportional representation will solve the problems that may arise in local government elections, the answer is that this does not depend on a single measure, however important it may be. But if one asks if local government needs proportional representation, the answer is an unqualified yes,” he said.
Skourletis was addressing a meeting in Ioannina of the annual conference of the Central Association of Greek Municipalities, and a segment of the audience of elected officials made clear that they are vehemently opposed to proportional representation in local elections.
Plans for local referendums
Another reform announced by Skourletis is the institution of local referendums, which will be held upon the initiative of either local government or following a broadly supported initiative by citizens.
“The institution of referendums will be extended to the municipal level. At the same time, we will expand the categories of issues that can be put to a local referendum, to include issues that are not under the narrow purview of local government, so as to be able to hold referendums, which are necessarily of an advisory [non-binding] nature, on all manner of local issues,” Skourletis concluded.