The Greek Press Today
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18 January, 2006
The possibility for hiring in the public sector with open-term contracts, changes in the system of promotions to senior ranks in the justice system, the institution of a Constitutional Court, the establishment of non-state universities, changes to the parliamentary immunity, and changes to the professional incompatibility clause for Members of Parliament, are among the provisions contained in prime minister Costas Karamanlis' proposal for the revision of the country's Constitution, which he unveiled on Tuesday while addressing a meeting of his ruling New Democracy party's (ND) parliamentary committee.
Pointing out the constitutional provisions slated for revision, Karamanlis said that, in the sector of Education, the changes he proposed aimed at allowing the establishment of no-state, non-profit universities, as well as the establishment of branches of foreign universities, under the same prerequisites.
The second sector slated for reform was justice. He proposed that the presidents of the country's three supreme courts -- the Areios Paghos supreme court (the highest court of appeal, with both penal and civil sections), the Council of State (the supreme administrative court), and the Council of State Auditors (the supreme court for fiscal matters) -- should be selected only from among the Court's vice-presidents, while the vice-presidents themselves should be selected only from among the 10 most senior members of the courts under the specific supreme court's jurisdiction. He also proposed that a fixed term be established for the vice-presidents of the three supreme courts.
Karamanlis further proposed the establishment of a Constitutional Court with a fixed composition, whose authorities would include: the final ruling of the constitutionality of laws, following recourse by the plenary of the Supreme Courts; supervision of transparency in the finances of the political parties and candidate MPs; investigation of the "source of wealth" statements of the MPs; and the imposition of severe sanctions which would also include forfeiture of the MP position.
"The present system of checks by Parliament must change. Those being censured cannot also be those conducting the censuring," he said.
He also proposed the adoption of a regulation that would avert the burdening of the budget with sums concerning previous years in the execution of court rulings with retroactive application.
Regarding the political system, Karamanlis' proposal contains guarantees in three directions. Firstly, transparency in the finances of the political parties and tickets, with parallel prohibition of the use of additional radio and television time beyond that stipulated. Second, transparency in the campaign and operational expenditures of the candidate MPs. Third, transparency in the finances of the MPs and the members of government, through consolidation of the "source of wealth" statement requirement and the provision of strict regulations for implementation of the requirement.
Supervision of the implementation of the new regulations would be assigned to the Constitutional Court.
The premier further referred to the ownership status, financial situation and financing of the mass media, saying that control of the concentration in the media was of great importance. Regarding the more specific provisions concerning the primary shareholder, he said the revision should be effected in the broader spirit of the Constitution in order to confront collusion.
"The clash with corruption and collusion was, is and will be head-on," Karamanlis stressed.
For the purpose of ensuring full transparency in the operation of the public sector, Karamanlis proposed that the agreements of high financial value entered into by the public sector should be audited by a special composition of the Council of State Auditors. He proposed, in other words, a stricter and more efficient audit of public sector contracts so as to avert and neutralize, at the outset, phenomena of collusion, corruption and wasteful spending of public monies.
With respect to changes on issues concerning the MPs, parliamentary immunity and professional incompatibility, Karamanlis proposed that it should be clearly stipulated that the lifting of parliamentary immunity would not be approved only if parliament ascertained that the lifting of immunity was being sought for political transgression or other political reasons. "In other words, it must be clarified that parliamentary immunity does not mean impunity for the MPs," he said.
He further proposed amendment of the Constitutional provision concerning the professional incompatibility of the MPs. He proposed that the "absolute" incompatibility clause be replaced by a "partial incompatibility" clause.
Another proposal was to increase the number of MPs elected without crosses of preference (on ballot tickets) -- the Deputies of State -- with the premier proposing a doubling of the number from 1/20 of the total number of MPs to 1/10.
Karamanlis also proposed changes in the sector of the environment, and spoke of an urgent need for spatial planning, with the linking of the use of forest expanses to the corresponding spatial plan, adding that the official documentation for the designation of a forest expanse needed to date back to the year in which the country's Constitution came into effect, 1975.
"We are proceeding to a revision without surprises, without dogmatism, without preconceptions, and have opted for a strategy of unity, unanimity, and conjoining of our efforts," Karamanlis said.
Source: Athens News Agency