A senior Greek judge and human rights advocate, Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Wednesday won the overwhelming backing of the parliament to become the county’s first female president.
Sakellaropoulou was nominated by the ruling conservative New Democracy party, but also managed to secure the backing of the main opposition party Syriza and the center-left Movement for Change. Breaking through gender barriers is not a new thing for the president-elect. She was the first woman to serve as the president of the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court. She held that position for 15 months until Wednesday’s election.
In the parliamentary vote on Wednesday, the 63-year-old head of the state council, Greece’s highest court, received support of 261 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament, way above the 200 required by the constitution. The prime minister’s decision to nominate Ms Sakellaropoulou, rather than backing a second term for president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, threw down a challenge to the overwhelmingly male members of Greece’s parliament, many of whom hold deeply conservative attitudes towards women.
“I think it’s time the country had a distinguished woman in the highest state role,” Mr Mitsotakis said ahead of her appointment. “Let’s not try to ignore it: Greek society still discriminates against women. This is going to change, starting from the top.”
Ms Sakellaropoulou, the only contender for the largely ceremonial position, last year became the first woman to head the Greek judiciary after her appointment by the then prime minister and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras.
Female lawyers have advanced rapidly in the Greek legal system over the past two decades and account for more than 60 per cent of the country’s judges, yet they hold comparatively few senior positions in business and politics.
Photo Credit: Reuters
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