Katerina Sakellaropoulou was backed by 261 MPs in the 300-member parliament. (Orestis Panagiotou/Pool via AP)
Greece’s politicians elected their country’s first female president on Wednesday with an overwhelming majority voting in favour of high-court judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
- Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated Ms Sakellaropoulou as a non-partisan candidate
- Ms Sakellaropoulou was backed by 261 MPs in the 300-member parliament
- In the current Greek Cabinet, all but one of the 18 senior positions are held by men
Speaking after being formally informed of the Parliament’s vote, Ms Sakellaropoulou said she would aim for the “broadest possible consensus” in the course of carrying out her duties.
In her first comments as president-elect, the judge noted the “difficult conditions and challenges of the 21st century, including the financial crisis, climate change, the mass movement of populations and the consequent humanitarian crisis, the erosion of the rule of law and all manner of inequalities and exclusions”.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated Ms Sakellaropoulou as a non-partisan candidate who would enjoy broad support from across the political spectrum.
In an unusual demonstration of harmony in the fractious world of Greek politics, the conservative-party nominee was backed by opposition parties, including the leftist Syriza party which lost power in an election last July.
Ms Sakellaropoulou was backed by 261 MPs in the 300-member Parliament.
Greece has a historically low number of women in senior positions in politics, and Mr Mitsotakis had been criticised for selecting a nearly all-male Cabinet after he won general elections in July 2019.
Ms Sakellaropoulou said she would aim for the “broadest possible consensus” in the course of carrying out her duties. (Orestis Panagiotou/Pool via AP)
In the current Greek Cabinet, all but one of the 18 senior positions are held by men.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Mitsotakis described Ms Sakellaropoulou as a “great jurist, a great judiciary personality who unites all Greeks from the minute this procedure began”.
He said he sought to nominate a candidate who would “symbolise the youth of the Greek nation, and I am glad that the result confirmed that on the big issues, we can finally agree”.
Ms Sakellaropoulou, from the northern city of Thessaloniki, became the first female head of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, in 2018, supported for that position by the then-leftist government.
A divorcee who lives in central Athens and is active on social media, Ms Sakellaropoulou has written numerous papers on environmental protection and chairs a society on environmental law
European officials congratulated Ms Sakellaropoulou, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcoming the election of Greece’s first female president in a tweet that said the country was “moving ahead into a new era of equality.”
European Council head Charles Michel also tweeted congratulations, saying it was “a great signal to elect the Republic’s first female head of state.”
Ms Sakellaropoulou is to begin her five-year term in March, when the term of the current President, veteran conservative politician Prokopis Pavlopoulos, expires.