A Female Hope for Greece

A new decade brings a new direction to an ancient nation.

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Anastasia Diakolios

Despite Greece’s rocky past, many people now hold hope for the future of the country. “As a nation familiar with social and economic turbulence, it is exciting to see how the new President will influence the current political climate,” said Elena Morgan ’20.

Greece has recently appointed its first female head of state with an overwhelmingly partisan vote in parliament. The current prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, nominated progressive judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou for the position, in an attempt to rebuild his beloved nation and his own reputation. His nomination of a candidate who not only holds non-traditional and liberal political views, but who is also a woman, comes as a huge surprise after he appointed an almost entirely male cabinet in July 2019. Mitsotakis believes that Sakellaropoulou’s views and experiences as a judge make her well-equipped for the position and that she will be able to enjoy “broad support from across the political spectrum.” 

Since Athens has a historically low number of women in senior governmental positions, this change in office represents a new and bright era of equality. She was officially appointed to the position in March 2020. When asked about the first steps that she would take as head of state, Sakellaropoulou stated that she is “aiming for the broadest possible consensus” in fulfilling the responsibilities of her position. That being said, she believes that the “difficult conditions and challenges of the twenty-first century” will make this an onerous goal to reach. 

Despite her age of sixty-three, Sakellaropoulou was nominated by Mitsotakis as a candidate who “symbolizes the youth of the Greek nation.” Her values and opinions on public policy reflect those of a large majority of the younger generation in Greece, whose sentiment towards politics is shaped by the decade long financial crisis. Since the elections in 2015, the Hellenic youth have been hoping for a candidate who prioritizes economic stability but does not share the same socially conservative values as the powerful New Democracy party. “It’s really good to see Greece moving in this direction and abandon the older generation’s ultra-conservative views on social issues. It’s time for us to catch up with the rest of the European Union,”said Sofia Maharias ’20, a proud Greek national. The president’s progressive views include, but are not limited to, environmental protection, gay marriage, and refugee rights. 

Not only is Katerina Sakellaropoulou a symbol of hope for the youth and progressives, but she is also a symbol of hope for women in Greece and other countries in Europe and Asia minor that struggle with women’s equality issues. Initiating a top-down change was a necessary measure to inspire more gender equality in Greek institutions. Although her recent inauguration is a step forward for women in Greece, the range of Sakellaropoulou’s power leaves much to be desired.

The position of President of the Hellenic Republic can be characterized as symbolic, as most of the President’s powers are restricted and regulated by the parliament, cabinet, and Prime minister. I am optimistic about President Sakellaropoulou’s upcoming term and hope to see a trend of more women in cabinet and parliament where they will be involved in crucial policy decisions regarding civil rights, the environment, economic cooperation, and participation in international organizations. Overall, it appears as though appointing this candidate is a step in the right direction for Greek women getting the recognition that they deserve in society.

“It’s really good to see Greece moving in this direction and abandon the older generation’s ultra-conservative views on social issues. It’s time for us to catch up with the rest of the European Union,”said Sofia Maharias ’20.

Anastasia Diakolios
Greece’s pride comes from being the birthplace of democracy, but some question the validity of this praise. “Our nation’s values have always consisted of justice and the pursuit of excellence. However, it cannot be a true democracy without equality,” said Nayia Siderakis ’21.

 

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