Our own Yiannis Petropoulos shares a summary of the opening lecture of the Events Series 2017, ‘Societies in Crisis: Economy, Politics, Culture’:
What would be the political and constitutional repercussions in another EU country if its citizens experienced a 40-50% reduction in salaries and pensions? To the credit of the Greeks and their constitution, the past 7 years of economic stagnation have not brought about political irregularity. The ship of state and the constitution have held surprisingly steady.
Nikos Alivizatos, Emeritus Professor of Constitutional Law at Athens University Law School, commenced the CHS-GR Lecture 2016-17 Series on 15th Dec. with his talk on the inherent weaknesss of the Greek parliamentary system from 1843 until the present. His respondent was Nikos Papaspyrou, Lecturer at Athens Law School and a graduate of Harvard Law School. A few highlights of Prof. Alivizatos’ talk:
The Greek parliamentary system is based on the English model, which in the case of Greece lends itself to bipartisan polarisation and creates discontinuity of government policy. Alternating governments rarely are interested in compromise and cooperation with parliamentary minorities. Impeachment proceedings are frequently instigated against prime ministers but rarely prove successful. Erratic economic policies, which cater for the majority’s clientele, are but one result of this instability. The debt crisis traces back to the bad practices of the parliamentary system.
On the positive side it was a stroke of originality that the Greek Constitution of 1844 provided for universal (male) suffrage decades before similar provisions in other European countries. Over the past 170 years, only 17 have been marked by the suspension of democratic government; compared with other countries on the continent this is minimal. This relative lack of irregularity has made for a modern tradition of democratic governance. Greek society, even under the Ottomans (whose decentralised scheme created a degree of local autonomy), was never subject to truly absolutist rule, unlike other European societies. Hence fascist ideologies have never really flourished. Even at 8 % , the rate of popularity for the right-wing Golden Dawn party is the lowest among pro-Nazi parties in the EU.
Alivizatos ended with a series of recommendations for future reform of the Greek parliamentary system. A key reform would be the abolition of the notorious law granting immunity from criminal prosecution to members of parliament.
CHS GR is excited to start sharing the Events Series through its YouTube channel. If you can’t attend but you don’t want to miss an event, all recordings will be available shortly after each event. So, be on the lookout for our next events, with Professor Gregory Nagy in January, and many distinguished speakers to follow!
Subscribe to our channel, and never miss an event!