Greek Parliament Elects Its First Female President

by on January 22, 2020

A judge with particular expertise in environmental law and the constitution has become Greece’s first female president.

A cross-party majority of 261 MPs voted in favour of 63-year-old Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, parliament chief Costas Tassoulas said.

The new president, until now the head of Greece’s top administrative court, the Council of State, will take her oath of office on 13 March, he added.

The daughter of a Supreme Court judge, Ms Sakellaropoulou completed postgraduate studies at Paris’s Sorbonne university.

She was also the first woman to head the Council of State.

Although the president is nominally the head of the Greek state and commander-in-chief, the post is largely ceremonial.

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Greek presidents confirm governments and laws and technically have the power to declare war, but only in conjunction with the government.

Main opposition leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said Ms Sakellaropoulou was an “exceptional judge” and a defender of human rights. The socialist KINAL party also backed her nomination.

In accepting the nomination, Ms Sakellaropoulou said it was an “honour for justice and modern Greek women”.

A 2017 Eurobarometer poll found 63% of Greeks thought gender equality had been achieved in politics, 69% at work and 61% in leadership positions.

But Eurostat figures from the same year show a pay gap between men and women in Greece of more than 12% in average gross hourly earnings.

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Unemployment is also higher among women, with one in five jobless according to the latest official figures.

Women won the right to vote in Greece in 1934, even if it was initially limited to educated women aged 30 and over.

The first female MP, Eleni Skoura, was elected in 1953.

Lina Tsaldari in 1956 became the first female minister, and Anna Psarouda Benaki the first female head of parliament in 2004.

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