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Greece

Greece

5. Participation

5.1 General context

On this page
  1. Main concepts
  2. Institutions of representative democracy

 

Main concepts

The participation of young people in civil society and in decision-making is not systematically or comprehensively measured in Greece or in the entire EU. Indicatively, based on the European Youth Barometer (2017), 46% of young people in Greece reported having participated in at least one of the eight activities related to social and political participation in the previous 12 months.

It is pointed out that the Greek Vocational Training and Lifelong Learning and Youth Strategy is guided by the basic principles of the Strategy for the Youth policy area, such as recording the real needs and interests of young people, through the participation of young people themselves and civil society, in the decision-making processes that concern them. Youth policy measures encourage and facilitate young people's participation in democratic life, as well as their active participation in civic affairs and society, with the goal of ensuring that all young people are equipped to be active members of society and to enjoy a high quality of life and work.

Institutions of representative democracy

The political system of Greece is a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy, with the Prime Minister as head of government within a multi-party system, the President of the Republic as head of state, and with powers (executive, legislative, judicial) distinguished:

  • The executive power of the state is implemented by the President of the Republic and the Government, which includes the Prime Minister as its President and all the Ministers, who are appointed by the President of the Republic on the proposal of the Prime Minister and are the members of the Ministerial Council.
  • Legislative power belongs to the Hellenic Parliament.
  • The judiciary power in Greece is implemented by administrative, civil and criminal courts.

Executive authority

According to the current constitution, the executive function of the state is applied by the President of the Republic and the Government, which includes the Prime Minister as its President and all the Ministers, who are appointed by the President of the Republic on the proposal of the Prime Minister and are the members of the Ministerial Council.

The President of the Republic is the determining factor in the functioning of the state, as the symbolic Supreme Lord. Elected by the Parliament for a five-year term, he/she can be re-elected only once. When the presidential term ends, the parliament votes to elect a new president. The person of the President is irresponsible for the acts he signs, as the responsibility rests entirely with the competent co-signatory minister (or ministers). With his/her signature, the prescribed decrees and laws of the state are issued and published. The President of the Republic has the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers and governments, convene and dissolve parliament, appoint and dismiss civil servants, appoint, promote, and place judicial officers, head the armed forces, declare war, and sign treaties of peace, alliance, or participation in international organisations, among other things.

The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party that controls the absolute majority of MPs. If no party has an absolute majority in Parliament, the President gives the leader of the party with the relevant majority an exploratory mandate, i.e. instructs him to examine whether, in cooperation with other parties, he can form a government that can receive a vote of confidence from Parliament. According to the Constitution, the Prime Minister safeguards the unity of the government and directs its activities. He/she is the most powerful person in the Greek political system and proposes to the President of the Republic the appointment or dismissal of ministers and deputy ministers. Thus, the government is maintained even if the Prime Minister renews all the government members, and even if the same government people are kept in power, the government changes when the face of the Prime Minister changes.

Greek parliamentarianism is based on the principle of the declared, which concerns the declared confidence of the Parliament in the government. Therefore, the President of the Republic must appoint as Prime Minister a person who will receive the vote of confidence from the absolute majority of the deputies present, which cannot be less than two-fifths of the entire number (i.e., at least 120 votes in favor, with the presence of 239 MPs). The government can at any time request a vote of confidence from Parliament. And conversely, a number of deputies, not less than one-sixth of them (i.e., at least 50 deputies) and no earlier than six months after the Parliament rejected a motion of no confidence, unless it is signed by an absolute majority of the whole number of them (at least 151 deputies), can request a reasoned vote of no confidence (motion of censure), which, in order to pass, must gather an absolute majority of the entire number of deputies (i.e., at least 151 votes against the government).

Legislative authority

The members of the Hellenic Parliament are elected by universal suffrage of all citizens over 17 years of age. It has 300 members who are elected to a 4-year term with an enhanced proportional system in 48 multi-party constituencies. 288 of the 300 Members of Parliament are elected directly by the people, as citizens can indicate their preference by "crossing" the name of the Member of Parliament on the ballot paper. The remaining 12 seats are elected by state ballots, starting from the top of each ballot and based on the percentage of the vote that the respective party received in the election.

The electorate is the set of Greek citizens who have the right to vote (or the "right to vote" or the "active electoral right"). This right is available to those who have Greek citizenship, have completed their seventeenth (17th) year of age (or about to reach it within the year in which the elections are held), have legal capacity, and have not suffered an irrevocable criminal conviction for certain crimes. In order to exercise the right to vote, a voter must be registered on the electoral rolls. The principles governing voting are:

A) The universal suffrage principle: According to this principle, only those citizens who do not meet the minimum conditions set, in an exclusive manner, by the Constitution, are excluded from the electoral body. The common legislature cannot provide additional grounds for deprivation of the right to vote.

B) The principle of voting equality This principle is specialised into two separate principles: that each citizen has only one vote and that all votes are legally equivalent.

C) The direct voting principle: According to this principle, no one else will intervene between the voter and the outcome of the election. In other words, it is not possible for the electors to elect some "electors" who in turn will elect the deputies.

D) The principle of voting secrecy: This principle ensures that the voter's electoral will not be known to third parties.

E) The concept of mandatory voting: According to this principle, the exercise of the right to vote is mandatory.

F) The principle of holding elections simultaneously throughout the territory. This principle can be waived for voters who are abroad, as long as the principle of simultaneous counting and announcement of the results is observed.

G) The principle of exercising the right to vote in person now only applies to voters who are in the territory. The revised article 51 par. 4 of the Constitution provides for the possibility for voters who are abroad to exercise their right to vote "by postal vote or other suitable means".

Judicial authority

Judicial power in Greece is exercised by regular courts, which are divided into administrative, civil , and criminal. These courts are composed of lifelong judges who have graduated from the National School of Judicial Officers and enjoy personal and operational independence. In the Greek judiciary, court cases can be examined at two levels: first instance and on appeal, while doubts and objections to the procedure are finally resolved by the corresponding supreme court.

In contrast to the other powers, the judicial power is independent of the executive and the legislative, and even of the judiciary itself, since the decisions of each court are not bound by those of other or higher courts. However, these can later be overturned or overturned by a higher court.

Local government

The current administrative division of Greece was shaped by the Kallikrates Programme  and the Cleisthenes I Programme and is valid from September 1, 2019. According to it, the country is divided into seven decentralised administrations, thirteen regions, and 332 municipalities, which in turn are divided into 4783 communities. Regions and municipalities are self-governing legal entities, i.e. their authorities are elected by universal suffrage from registered citizens and are in turn divided into 74 regional units.

The primary local government organisation (LGO) is the "municipality". It is governed by a mayor and a city council elected every 5 years by universal suffrage. Each municipality is divided into departments called "municipal units" and these, in turn, into "communities". The latter have their own councils, but their role is advisory and they cannot make decisions.

OTA is the "region", which corresponds to a broad geographical area of ​​the country. It is governed by a regional governor and a regional council elected every 4 years by universal suffrage among the registered citizens of the municipalities that belong to the region. Each region is divided into "regional units," which usually coincide with counties. Each regional unit has its own deputy governor who comes from the electoral district of the regional governor.

"Decentralized administration" is not an institution of self-administration but of administrative decentralisation of the state. It includes from 1 to 12 prefectures, and its head (with the title "general secretary") is appointed by the government and gathers all decision-making powers; and its council, which includes the relevant elected regional governors and representatives of the regional associations of municipalities, is mainly advisory in nature.