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We interrupt to bring you this electoral advertorial…
In the wee hours of 23 June, just before the second round of Greek parliamentary elections, I was staying up to finish off a work task, and instead of Law and Order Criminal Intent, I’m watching the electoral speech of Zoe Konstantinopoulou: daughter of the president of SYRIZA’s predecessor party, former unsmiling SYRIZA speaker of parliament, and during her tenure, simultaneously target of sexist abuse, and parliamentarian terror. (Australians: think Bronwyn Bishop, but with the Greens. In a country where the Greens won the elections.)
She was now at the edge of getting voted in with her own party Course of Freedom (and was in fact elected), with a new, incongruously smiling softie image, complete with heart hands…
… and she’s still promising to be a terror. She is outright promising to abuse her privileges as a former Speaker of Parliament, to push her agenda. “I am allowed to introduce new agenda items to any political leaders’ meeting, even if they’ve declared the agenda closed.” That was one of a dozen undertakings.
I don’t know why the founding fathers of the Hellenic Republic allowed such privileges to former speakers of parliament, but I assume they did not anticipate former speakers were also going to be firebrand minor party leaders. They must have thought they’d be docile elder statesperson types.
Thing about the Greek constitution: you don’t need a big old referendum or a constitutional convention to change the constitution. If Konstantinopoulou does abuse a bunch of constitutional loopholes like she’s promising (“an opposition such as has never been exercised before!!!”), well, loopholes can be closed.
…. She’s getting more and more unhinged as she goes.
I WILL WAGE THE KIND OF OPPOSITION THIS COUNTRY HAS NEVER SEEN!
YOU! GREEK CITIZEN! YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE! WE WILL ALWAYS BE TOGETHER!
She also was saying how unacceptable it is that Greek politicians yell at each other in front of the cameras, and then backslap behind the cameras. As she saw to her disgust, during her time as speaker and terror of parliament. Heaven forbid that anybody in parliament actually get anything done together behind the scenes. There shall be yelling at each other behind the scenes too. She’ll make sure of it, in all those closed-door meetings she’s allowed to barge into, as former speaker of parliament.
Yeah, not everything in this country makes me smile….
She was followed by the political statement of Breath of Freedom, the anti-vaxxer party. I switched them off: there are limits, and the party president (a prof of medicine at Salonica U, no less) had just declared pollution fake news.
Ed Conway shuddered at the possibilities of the Former Speaker Barging In principle as applied to the US, and I could only concur:
Seriously, it is so insane a notion, I’m hoping she was wrong, and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t. She got elected btw. So we got Tories, not-chastened-enough-Syriza, increasingly centrist Socialists, the unreconstructed Stalinists of the communist party, Golden Dawn with the serial numbers filed off, a far right populist party, a far right religious party, and Madam Speaker.
In Round 2, you’re allowed to overrule the list of individually elected candidates from Round 1 with your own choices. Demonstrating how well she is going to use her new found powers, she bumped a top elected MP, replacing him with her husband.
As Vangelis Lolos has been saying to me: this Greek parliament is going to be a god-damned rodeo.
As Vangelis Lolos corrected me (something he often ends up having to do):
Those are not constitutional loopholes though, they’re just part of the Parliamentary ruleset that is amended very easily.
Some commentators speculate that Mitsotakis is going to request a strict enforcement of the agreed rules and – at least initially – follow them to the letter to set an example.
By the way, there are some who consider her party a far-right party. It’s a stretch but the left-right axis is so meaningless nowadays that if you squint she looks like Velopoulos (no, not Dany Trejo, those jokes are sexist).
Also, I assume that you’ve heard about her “promoting” her boyfriend to MP
Indeed, see above.