Athens – Greece on Wednesday elected a woman head of state for the first time in the country’s history after the male-dominated parliament voted in favor of appointing well-known judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou as president.
She received the backing of 261 lawmakers in the Hellenic chamber, well above the necessary 200, with the support of almost all members of the conservative New Democracy government and the left-wing opposition Syriza and center-left Movement for Change.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “Greece enters a new era today, the country enters the third decades of the 21st century with a woman president.”
He described her as a “great personality” who united Greek people.
Although Sakellaropoulouwon a large majority, she couldn’t count on the vote of one of New Democracy’s best knowns faces, former prime minister Andonis Samaras, who was out of the country.
Several names had been mulled for the position of president by Greek media, including Samaras himself.
Parliament’s speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas will formally communicate Sakellaropoulou’s appointment and the new president is expected to take office on 13 March, a day after the first and only term of her predecessor Prokopis Pavlopoulos comes to an end.
In Greece, it is common for leftist governments to propose conservative presidential candidates and vice versa to project an image of institutional consensus.
While never openly campaigning for a political party, Sakellaropoulou is considered as progressive and was the first person to preside over the Greek Council of State after being appointed by the previous Syriza government in 2018.
In addition to the image of institutional cohesion, Mitsotakis achieves three things with his proposed head of state: weakening the narrative from the opposition that he is on the far-right, putting a conservative judge in charge of the Council of State and removing Pavlopoulos from office.
Outgoing presidents are usually chosen for a second term. This is the first time that a government has decided not to propose a candidate from its own ranks.
Sakellaropoulou’s election as president is an indicator of change in a deeply unequal country.
According to the European Union’s agency for equality, Greece has the dubious honor of leading the list in terms of gender disparity.
Only 18 percent of lawmakers and 9 percent of company executives are women, according to the research.
“The time has come for our country to choose a woman as president,” Mitsotakis said when he announced the candidacy. EFE-EPA
A large wildfire on Greece’s Evia island on Tuesday (August 13) fanned by strong winds blanketed the capital Athens some 110 kilometers (70 miles) away.
The fire, which generated thick smoke, destroyed tracts of forest on Evia, firefighters said, as authorities prepared to evacuate two villages potentially in the path of the flames.
Wildfires raged uncontrolled in at least four other Greek regions, and the fire brigade said it had been called to put out 182 fires in the last three days.
More than 120 firemen, aided by helicopters and other aircraft, battled the blaze on Evia, the country’s second-largest island, where a monastery had already been evacuated.
No fatalities had been reported, and the winds were expected to subside in the evening, a fire brigade official said.
Greece often faces wildfires during its dry summer months, and authorities have warned of the high risk of blazes this week.
Last year a wildfire killed 100 people in the seaside town of Mati near Athens, and in 2007 devastating fires killed 65, scorched thousands of hectares of forest and farmland and threatened archaeological sites. (REUTERS)
At least five fires have southern Greece alight on Wednesday afternoon due to high temperatures and gale force winds, while at the same time a strong storm hit northern Greece leaving seven people dead, dozens injured and a fisherman missing, as well as losses or damages to properties.
On Wednesday afternoon, at least five fires triggered either by high temperatures or gale force winds swept across the Peloponnese Peninsula, Attica Peninsula, Lamia Bay, and Evia Peninsula.
The disasters were finally controlled before night fell due to the joint efforts of firefighters on the ground and planes in the air.
However, in northern Greece, another extreme weather phenomenon took the baton and threatened people in the north.
The extreme weather caused seven people, six of whom confirmed as tourists from Russia, Czech and Romania on vacation in the country, dead and the unidentified victim is said likely to be a local fisherman. The storm darkened the doorstep of the Chalkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece, and the country’s second largest city Thessaloniki.
“The grill and the iron plate for the barbecue were blown off there. The pavilion there also fell down. The cars were crushed,” said Despoina, a resident in Chalkidiki.
The damages brought by the first freak storm in 30 years was huge, though it only lasted half an hour.
“We have been living here for 25 years, but we have never seen this,” said Despoina.
The power supply in the northern coastal areas and trains running between Thesalloniki and Alexandroupoli, another coastal city in the north, were cut off.
The 22 injured people have been sent to a local hospital, with nine of them suffering fractures to varying degrees. (REUTERS)
The death toll from the cold front which has been battering Greece in the first days of the new year rose to three on Sunday, local authorities said.
Firemen retrieved the bodies of two men, aged 66 and 67, at the outskirts of Keratea town, 30 km southeast of Athens, according to a Fire Brigade announcement.
On Saturday, search squads also found the body of a 66-year-old woman, one of the victims’ spouse.
They were all riding a car when a heavy storm hit the area on Thursday.
As the cold front named “Sophia”, which was sweeping across Greece from Tuesday bringing snowfall and downpour in many parts of the country, receded on Sunday, Greece’s national weather service warned that a new low pressure weather system was due to hit the country on Monday evening.
“Telemachos”, as meteorologists have named the new cold front, was forecast to bring snowfall in Athens and southern Greece, after “Sophia” caused travel disruptions in the northern and central regions of the country.
The lowest temperature of minus 19 Celsius degree was recorded on Sunday at Florina town in northern Greece. — Reuters
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