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  • Top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou is known for championing civil liberties, ecological issues and minority rights.

    Top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou is known for championing civil liberties, ecological issues and minority rights. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 January 2020
Opinion

Progressive judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, a French-educated expert in constitutional and environmental law, is on track to secure more than 260 votes.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that “time has come for Greece to open up to the future,” during a surprise televised address Thursday where he announced the country's first-ever female presidential candidate, progressive judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou.

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In his own words, she "embodies unity and progress," emphasizing that the election breaks with tradition not only because Sakellaropoulou is a woman, but also because she is not a member of a political party. "The time has come for Greece to open up to the future," he stated.

“I accept the proposal and, if elected, will devote all my efforts to serving this high duty, as set out by the constitution," the 62-year-old described her presidential nomination as honoring both justice and the modern Greek woman.

At a time when the climate emergency is becoming ever more apparent, aides close to Mitsotakis said her track record in protecting the environment, while also endorsing policies of growth, would be crucial as the country emerges from a period of political and economic crisis following its near brush with bankruptcy.

The five-round vote requires an overwhelming majority of 200 to pass initially. Sakellaropoulou, a French-educated expert in constitutional and environmental law, is on track to secure more than 260 votes.

In what some call a move loaded with "symbolism" in a nation more used to bipartisan politics, the decision was welcomed widely by representatives and members of the different political blocs.

Sakellaropoulou's sensitivity to civil liberties, ecological issues, and minority rights prompted the then left-wing administration to propel her to her current post.

One of the first ones to show his approval to the government's nomination was Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras, who called Sakellaropoulou an "exceptional judge" and a defender of human rights.

Furthermore, center-left KINAL party also said it would support the candidature of the current head of the Council of State, Greece's top administrative court, for next January 22nd elections.

Political commentator Pavlos Tzimas expressed that the progressive judge “belongs to a minority of judges in Greece who have always taken a courageous stance on civil rights whether that be voting against sexual discrimination, or in favor of refugee children or civil unions for same-sex couples.”

He also reflected on Mitsotakis' decision because “he’s not only been heavily criticized for not having enough women in his cabinet but she is also very progressive.”

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