The new members of the Greek Parliament were sworn in eleven days after the second elections in the country. Greek Archbishop Ieronymos held a religious ceremony in the presence of a group of priests and then, the 300 new members of parliament were sworn in to faithfully serve their country.
The meeting was chaired by the first deputy chairman of parliament and member of New Democracy Yiannis Tragakis. The composition of the presidium will be elected by a secret ballot tomorrow. As government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou has already announced, New Democracy’s nomination for chairman is Evangelos Meimarakis – a long-time deputy and minister in Kostas Karamanlis’ governments.
The problem remains the nomination of the seventh deputy chairman, who, according to the rules of parliament should be "a member of the fifth largest opposition parliamentary group." In this case it is the Nazi party Golden Dawn.
Its members themselves do not constitute a majority to nominate a deputy chairman under Article 67 of the Constitution and the rules of parliament. Commentators believe that the only option is to consider a "majority" the number of votes that the party nomination will gain. The reason is that there should be not more than one nomination for the deputy chairman post. Golden Dawn intends to nominate Christos Pappas or Eleni Zaroulia. She is a deputy from the first constituency in Athens but she is also the wife of party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos.
At the same time, sources claimed that the parliamentary groups of Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn are considering the options of nominating for the post of chairman the blue Viron Polidoras against the nomination of Evangelos Meimarakis.
Elected as chairman of parliament will be the candidate who receives the votes of 151 members. If no candidate gains an absolute majority, a second election round between the two candidates with the highest number of votes will be held. Appointed as chairman will be the one supported by a higher number of deputies.
The elections have reversed the political ratios by making the radical left SYRIZA the main opposition party, whereas PASOK remained in third place with only 33 seats in the new parliament. The Communist Party, which was always the third political force is now the last in the seven-party parliament and has 12 deputies. This means that it will have to vacate the first seats in the left wing of parliament and move much further back, as the Democratic Left and SYRIZA have also managed to gain a better election result.
Sources claim that Viron Polidoras – the chairman of the parliament that survived only two days after the elections on 6 May, called the three parties "to agree with each other" and advised SYRIZA and Democratic Left "not to bother the Communist Party."
One of SYRIZA’s original proposals was that the 71 party deputies should occupy the entire left wing in parliament as well as some seats in the back of the next wing. In this case, the question would be which party should sit in the first seats: the Communists or the Democratic Left, which participates in the government coalition. SYRIZA had said that the deputies from both parties could sit in parallel to be able to access the first seats. This option was rejected because the party leaderships of the Communist Party and the Democratic Left could not sit next to each other. During the negotiations between representatives of the three left parties, the Democratic Left had also insisted on the seats in the left and suggested that the Communists could sit further back and SYRIZA’s deputies could sit in the next wing, which they had occupied after the elections on 6 May.
Before today's ceremony of taking the oath, sources claimed that, the dispute had been resolved. According to them, the Communists were ready to sit in the left wing behind SYRIZA’s deputies and the Democratic Left would occupy the first rows of the next wing. Other members of SYRIZA would take the remaining seats in the back.
So far, it is unclear how the disputed seats will be allocated. The only thing certain is that during the ceremony of taking the oath, the members of the Communist Party took their old seats in the front rows in the left wing. SYRIZA’s deputies took the second wing in the left, where the deputies of PASOK had recently been sitting. The Socialists sat in the central wing between SYRIZA and New Democracy. The deputies of the Independent Greeks sat in the last rows. The Democratic Left’s deputies sat in the upper rows of the left wing and some members of SYRIZA sat behind them. The deputies of Golden Dawn sat in the back rows of the right wing, behind New Democracy.
This allocation is only temporary, sources assured and indicated that the matter will be fully settled after the election of the new head of parliament tomorrow.
Changes, however, did not stop. Alexis Tsipras, who had apparently taken seriously the role of his party as the main opposition force, observed the church ritual and accepted the Archbishop's blessing. "There were times when SYRIZA left the parliament during the church oath. Things are different now. We grew up," reads a witty post on the social network Twitter.
Negative comments were caused by the fact that while some Greeks were resenting the behaviour of Golden Dawn members, who did not stand up when the three Muslim deputies were sworn in on the Koran, the state television was broadcasting commercials.