New Electoral Law in Greece Leaves Regional Governors, Mayors with Hands Tied

An interesting article from regarding the impact proportional representation could have on future decision making.

Here in Kefalonia for instance the new mayor for the Argostoli region is in similar circumstances where his party has 9 seats but to get policies through needs to get 14 votes as overall there are 27 seats.

Looking on the bright side he has until 1st September when he officially takes control to agree with smaller groups or even main opposition members further backing arrangements.


The new law that calls for proportional representation in local government has created serious problems after Sunday’s election results, which saw many of the winners without a majority of council members.

Specifically, the governors in seven of the thirteen regions of Greece, as well as 220 mayors across the country, will not have a majority of council members of their own party.

According to the Greek Ministry of the Interior, the new bill on local governmental elections allows for representatives of candidates to participate in regional or municipal councils based on the votes they received proportionately in the first round.

This applies to cases in which the winners received less than 50 percent of the total vote in the first round. In the second round, only the first two candidates competed for the post of governor or mayor respectively.

However, the members of the regional or municipal council were elected based on the votes they received individually and proportionately in the first round.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the new bill allows for the representation of all parties in local councils so that all citizens will have a voice in their region and town, regardless of who is the governor or mayor. At the same time they can serve as a check on local government.

A case in point would be the Thessaloniki municipality, in which there were 16 mayoral candidates and 49 council member seats. In the first round, winner Nikos Tahiaos received eleven council member seats. The runner-up, Konstantinos Zervas, won seven seats in the council.

The man who came in third, Giorgos Orfanos was also awarded seven seats, and the fourth-place candidate, Katerina Notopoulou, got the same number of council members as well. Spyros Vougias received three, Panagiotis Psomiadis another three, and Sotiris Zarianopoulos was awarded two seats. The remaining nine council member seats went to the nine remaining candidates.

In the second round, the man in first place, Nikos Tahiaos, lost to second runner-up Konstantinos Zervas. However, despite being elected with almost 67 percent of the vote in the two-man race, new Thessaloniki mayor Zervas has only seven council members on his side — and there are a total of 42 members for the opposition.

In the case of Thessaloniki, a minimum of 25 votes is needed for a policy or a project in order to be put into effect. In essence, Zervas will have to depend heavily on the opposition to approve his policies and projects, even in such simple matters as filling potholes on roads.

Similarly, new Ilioupoli Mayor Giorgos Hatzidakis will need the support of 15 municipal council members in each matter coming before him, as he has only six members of his own.

In Acharnes, Mayor Spyros Vrettos will go to municipal council meetings with only ten of the 45 council members supporting his party.

Regarding regional election results, in the regions of East Macedonia and Thrace, Christos Metios has seventeen council members of his own and needs nine more to control the majority. In the Ionian Islands Region, Rodi Kratsa – Tsagaropoulou will have the support of twelve council members out of a total of 41.

During the parliamentary debate on the proportional representation bill, opposition parties argued that the lack of a clear majority will be putting mayors and governors in the awkward position of not having the power their position implies. This could most likely lead to delays in the completion of public works and projects, as well as overall delays in the implementation of policies.

And what is even worse, the opposition argued, the lack of a clear majority could possibly lead to shady deals, bribery and general malfeasance. In sum, the proportional representation bill will likely paralyze local government.

Furthermore, proportional representation will apply to the national elections as well, following the votes to be held in July. Some opposition parties are saying that this could lead to repeat elections, without any party receiving the mandate to form a government even if they win the election.

Currently, the party that comes in first in the election receives a bonus of fifty seats in the 300-seat Greek Parliament.

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