Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a high court judge and a human rights activist, was elected as the President of Greece by the parliament on 22nd January 2020. This marks the first time in the nation’s history that a female has been elected to the post.
The 63-year-old received the support of 261 MPs in the parliament, which consists of 300 members. This well surpassed the stipulated 200 votes required as stated in the constitution.
However, breaking conventions is not new to Sakellaropoulou. Fifteen months ago, she became the first woman to serve as the president of the Council of State, the topmost administrative court of the European nation.
Sakellaropoulou is the daughter of a former supreme court judge and is an expert in environmental and constitutional law. She is also a political outsider and does not belong to any political party. She completed her post graduation from the Sorbonne University of France and has authored several papers on environmental protection.
A host of congratulatory messages poured in for Sakellaropoulou, who was also congratulated by Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission on her election. Leyen tweeted that Greece was “moving ahead into a new era of quality.”
Congratulations to Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou – the first female President of the Hellenic Republic elected with a very large majority today in the Hellenic Parliament.
🇬🇷 is moving ahead into a new era of equality. #europeisawoman
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 22, 2020
Unfortunately, Greece is one of the few European nations which has a largely disproportionate cabinet in terms of gender: there are very few women in senior positions in politics. In the present government, a mere five women hold cabinet positions. It was at the bottom of the gender quality index for 2017 issued by the European Institution for Gender Equality.
Sakellaropoulou will take to office on 13 March 2020, succeeding Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who held the post for the last five years.
The post of the President in Greece is a largely ceremonial one and has few formal powers. However, they have a larger role in consulting matters.