Greece

   

Quality of Democracy

#26
Key Findings
Despite free and fair electoral procedures, Greece falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 26) with regard to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

A recently passed law on political-party funding and transparency is a substantial improvement over the past, but monitoring remains spotty. State-bank funding to parties is rarely repaid in full. Courts have shown a marked independence of the government, but appointments can be politicized.

The national broadcaster tends to follow the government line. The protracted economic crisis has proved a serious strain on the media sector, with many outlets shutting down. Ownership of major media outlets often lacks transparency.

Significant progress in LGBTQI rights have been made in recent years. Refugees and migrants stranded in detention centers suffer from very poor living conditions. Anti-corruption policy has been active but fragmented, focusing on punishment rather than prevention.

Electoral Processes

#23

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
10
There is no discrimination in registration procedures and no potential candidates or parties are prevented from participating in elections. Exceptions include, for example, active military officers, who cannot run for office. Prison convicts are the only citizens that can face voting restrictions: prisoners serving either indefinite or life sentences are disqualified, otherwise the matter is left to the discretion of the sentencing court.

Before elections, parties and candidates are required to submit a petition to the highest civil and criminal court (Areios Pagos) which monitors formalities such as checking that no other parties have the same name.

The legality or fairness of elections is not challenged by parties nor candidates. Despite the acute political conflict with respect to the causes and management of the crisis, the conduct of electoral procedures in Greece is reliable. Indeed, the two parliamentary elections which took place in Greece in January and September 2015 were smoothly organized and, in budgetary terms, cost much less than previous national elections (the first cost approximately €50 million and the second around €35 million).

Citations:
Regulations for registering a candidate are listed in article 55 of the Constitution, while incompatibilities are listed in articles 56, 57 and 58. For the relevant provisions of the Constitution, translated into English, see http://www.venice.coe.int/VOTA/en/s tart.html [accessed on 11.05.2013].

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
9
Incumbent political parties represented either in the national parliament or the European Parliament have equal opportunities for media access. However, the country’s national broadcaster (ERT) nowadays primarily, if not exclusively, communicates the views of the government coalition Syriza-ANEL, as it had done until 2014 with its previous political masters, namely either the PASOK or the ND government. In addition, since 2013 – when ERT was replaced by a new public broadcaster (NERIT) for a two-year period – the trade union of ERT’s employees (POSPERT) has operated a “self-managed” radio station, called ERT-open. The radio station almost exclusively broadcasts either Syriza views or the views of radical and anarchist groups to the left of Syriza.

Private media are also selective in their reporting and many are sensationalist. Relevant media outlets obviously include new social media, which played a major role in promoting the “no” vote in the July 2015 national referendum. The “no” vote won by 61%. Incidentally, in the same referendum almost all private media had supported the “yes” vote, which indicates that a large share of Greek public opinion falls under the radar of social media outlets.

Since the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn won parliamentary representation in the 2012 elections and repeated its success by obtaining 7% of the vote in the two parliamentary elections of 2015, most media have not invited the party’s leaders to political debates nor to interviews because the party has expressed very strong anti-parliamentary and racist views.

Citations:
http://aceproject.org/epic-en/me/Epic_view/GR [accessed on 08.05.2013]
The trade-union managed radio station’s website is http://www.ertopen.com/

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
10
Voting in Greece is mandatory by law. However, it is rarely enforced. In July 2016, the Greek parliament voted to lower the minimum voting age to 17 years. There is no discrimination in the exercise of the right to vote nor any disincentives for voting. Upon being born, Greeks are registered in the municipality where their family resides. These records serve as lists of citizens eligible to vote. There is, however, a need to clean these records to remove persons who are deceased or have permanently migrated to other countries. Thus, today, records include names of voters who will never turn out to vote. The result is that turnout in elections is calculated on a sum total of voters which is probably higher than the actual number of eligible voters.

Citations:
http://aceproject.org/epic-en/countries/CDCountry?country=GR [accessed on 11.05.2013]

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
5
Party financing for national elections is regulated by Law 4304/2014, which adheres to guidelines established by the Council of Europe, constrains the size of budget outlays to parties, increases transparency regarding donations to parties and bars the practice of parties’ obtaining bank loans against future revenue which the parties expect to receive from the state. Every year, the interior minister issues a ministerial ordinance which distributes funds to parties which have received at least 1.5% of the total vote in the most recent elections.

Ιn the past, state-owned and private banks lent millions of euros to Greek political parties. However, the banks proved unable to force the parties repay their loans, as successive governments protected over-indebted parties. For example, while the aforementioned 2014 law provided that banks could confiscate assets from political parties up to 90% of the debt owed to them, in July 2017 the Syriza-ANEL coalition government reduced this value to 60% of the total debt owed.

A new state committee, the monitoring mechanism of electoral campaign spending, has been established under an August 2016 decision of the Greek parliament. However, monitoring remains ineffective and the real sources of party financing are not known in full. For example, the new legislation contains a provision reinstating anonymous coupons for financing political parties. Such anonymous coupons can now represent up to 5% of the state financing of a party. This is not in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe.

Citations:
A brief article on the new law in English is available at http://www.ekathimerini.com/162022/article/ekathimerini/news/bill-introduces-new-rules-for-funding-of-greek-political-parties. Accessed on 03.11.2015.

See also European Commission, Compliance Report. The Third Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece
Second Review, June 2017.

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
2
In 2015, Greeks had an opportunity to vote on an issue of importance, but this was not an effective opportunity for popular decision-making. In fact, the resolve to launch the referendum destabilized the economy and negatively affected the relations between Greece and its euro zone partners. On 5 July 2015, a referendum was held on the European Commission’s second-to-last proposal of reforms for Greece. Prime Minister Tsipras rejected that list of reforms, launched the referendum and won it, with 61% of Greek voters agreeing with him and voted “no.” A week later, however, Tsipras accepted a bailout package of €86 billion, under equally severe, if not worse, conditions than the bailout packages of 2010 and 2012. Apparently, the Syriza-ANEL government had counted on people voting “yes” in the referendum or simply did not intend to give citizens a true opportunity to decide.

Citations:
Τhe conduct of referendums in Greece is regulated by article 44 of the Constitution and Law 4023/2011.

Access to Information

#30

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/ market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
5
The financial crisis, and the continuing decline in circulation and advertising has strained Greece’s media sector. Numerous media outlets have shut down, reduced staff and salaries, scaled down or eliminated news departments, or failed to pay wages. These developments have made media outlets more susceptible to government influence.

After closing down the national public broadcaster, ERT, in June 2013, the coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK (in power between November 2011 and December 2014), passed legislation in May 2014 to establish a new national public broadcaster (this time named NERIT). The reestablishment of ERT and the re-hiring of all its employees (who had been dismissed in June 2013) was a major item in the pre-electoral agenda of the Syriza party. In April 2015, the Syriza government passed a law abolishing NERIT and reinstituting ERT. It can be argued that this rectified the previous situation. ERT started operating again in June 2015.

However, particularly in the period under review, the ERT TV channels have clearly adopted a pro-government bias across all news programming. With a few exceptions, news presenters toe the government line on almost all issues, while invited commentators often follow a solid government line. This trend is disquieting in view of the government’s attempt to control the private TV sector, although this attempt was finally aborted between September and December 2016. Moreover, in the first months of 2017, the Syriza-ANEL coalition government attempted but failed to control DOL, one of the country’s oldest and largest press groups, by allowing a former Syriza member of parliament to temporarily take over DOL’s management. As a result of the mistreatment of ERT by the pro-austerity parties, and the recent, very intense meddling by the Syriza-ANEL coalition in TV and press groups, Greece ranked 88 out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

Citations:
Τhe law abolishing ERT and establishing the new public broadcaster, NERIT, i.e. law 4173/2013, was voted in July 2013.
The law abolishing NERIT and re-establishing ERT, i.e., law 4324/2015, was voted in April 2015.
The information on Greece’s ranking on the Word Press Freedom index is available at https://rsf.org/en/ranking#

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
5
There are a large number of electronic and print media organizations, but the structure of ownership remains oligopolistic with strong cross-ownership across media formats. In a country of 11 million inhabitants, there are more than 120 analog private TV stations with a national, regional or local license. There are also approximately 950 regional/local radio stations.

The exact ownership structure of media outlets is concealed by the holding companies and little-known entities listed in official records, and no exact ownership information is available. Extensive cross-media ownership is common and this has negatively affected media independence. Wealthy businessmen with interests in shipping, telecommunications and other industries dominate the largest private TV, radio and social media channels.

Four of the biggest TV channels (Mega, Antenna, Star, Skai) attract the majority of viewers, as they offer popular shows, including Turkish and Brazilian soap operas, and infotainment. Their owners also hold majority shares in national daily newspapers (He Kathimerini, Ta Nea, Ethnos).

During June to September 2016, the Syriza-ANEL tried to regulate the media field by passing a law that would allow only four nationwide TV channels to function in the country as a whole. The four new licenses would be for sale and would be granted to the highest bidder. The number of licenses and the bidding process were to be supervised not by the competent independent authority, the National Council of Radio and Television (ESR), but by a government minister. While the media field clearly needed to be regulated after two and a half decades of regulatory instability and uncertainty, critics rightly understood this governmental endeavor as a challenge to established media owners, if not a challenge to media pluralism. In fact, this government initiative was partly annulled in October 2016 by Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court (StE)

Electronic media is also flourishing in the form of websites and blogs. There are an unknown number of anti-establishment electronic media. Some of them have become critical of Syriza and ANEL after their coalition government failed to follow up on their pre-electoral promises. The influence of anti-establishment media, some of which are to the left of Syriza, while others are closer to the far right, is difficult to assess, although one suspects it is quite large.

The print media landscape is also pluralistic. There are 59 national newspapers and around 500 regional/local ones. However, between 1990 and 2008, circulation dropped by 50%. There are at least three pro-government Athens-based daily newspapers, while a similar number are critical of the government. In the beginning of 2017, the Syriza-ANEL government tried to gain indirect control of a major but heavily indebted press group, the Lambrakis group (DOL), through the attempt of a pro-government Greek-Russian tycoon to buy DOL. Eventually, the highest bidder was another tycoon who is not linked to the government but who already controls Greece’s richest soccer team (Olympiacos) and has business interests in shipping and other sectors. In other words, private media enterprises have been changing hands but the overall oligopolistic nature of the media sector has not been altered.

For example, the owners of major Athenian Sunday newspapers (e.g., He Kathimerini, To Ethnos) also have shares in the major private TV channels. Some other large Sunday newspapers offer sensationalist coverage (Real News, Proto Thema). There are also regional daily newspapers in large cities.

While Greece lacks an effective anti-monopoly policy for the media business, the media actually do indeed report a wide range of opinions. The government voices its opinions through the state-owned TV broadcaster (ERT) and friendly newspapers and radio stations. The opposition has a voice in the media, as political party leaders participate daily in state and private TV and radio programs. Regardless of their political profile, however, some marginal newspapers and even “He Avgi,” an official party newspaper (Syriza), do not refrain from publishing news and reports which, at times, border on smear campaigns against political opponents.

Citations:
Information and analysis on media cross-ownership and newspaper circulation in 1990-2008 is drawn on Nikos Leandros, “Media Concentration and Systemic Failures in Greece,” International Journal of Communication, vol 4, 2010, pp. 886-905. Information on the numbers of print and electronic media businesses and media ownership in Greece is available at Evangelia Psychogiopoulou, Dia Anagnostou and Anna Kandyla, “Does Media Policy Promote Media Freedom and Independence? The Case of Greece,” case study report included in ELIAMEP’s MEDIADEM research program, available at http://www.mediadem.eliamep.gr/wp-c ontent/uploads/2012/01/Greece.pdf. Accessed on 08.06.2013.

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
8
Citizens’ free and easy access to official information has been regulated since 1986. Two laws passed in 2006 and 2010 provide for the creation of an electronic system allowing access to any public document. There are a few reasonable access restrictions pertaining to matters of national security and defense.

There are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information. First, there are administrative courts, including the Supreme Administrative Court (StE, Symvoulio tis Epikrateias). Second, there is the ombuds office, established in 1997. Unfortunately, owing to work overload, administrative courts can take a long time to decide on a case, but the ombuds office represents a well-managed mechanism of appeal and oversight. The ombudsman can demand that any public service respond to a citizen’s right to information, even though ministries themselves tend to be quite unresponsive to citizen requests.

Α law passed in July 2010, known as Diavgeia (i.e., clarity), required all public authorities to upload to an electronic platform all administrative acts, laws, decrees and circular. Thus, the scope of access to official information was drastically expanded. In October 2014, the Greek government passed a new law which further expanded access to public documents and adapted Greek legislation to the Directive no. 2013/37/ΕΕ of the EU’s Council of Ministers. A new codification of all relevant legislation took place in March 2015, without practically changing any regulations. Since then no significant changes have been observed in this policy area.

Citations:
The four most important laws regulating access to information are Law 1599/1986, Law 3448/2006, Law 3861/2010 (the “Diavgeia” law), and Law 4305/2014. Presidential Decree 28/2015 codified all previous legislation on access to information and was issued in March 2015.

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#19

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
6
Civil rights are protected by and included in the constitution (passed in 1975 and amended in 1986, 2001 and 2008) and the criminal code. Judges are tenured and cannot be removed nor transferred by incoming governments. Courts guarantee the protection of life, freedom and property and protect all individuals against illegitimate arrest, exile, terror, torture or unjustifiable intervention into personal life. Greek citizens enjoy equal access to the law and are treated equally by the law. Notably, despite intense political conflict since the start of the economic crisis (2010), Greek democracy has continued to function and the courts have administered justice, albeit with very significant delays. Judges are unable to handle the constant overflow of cases, while lack of digital infrastructure and modern management methods aggravate the situation.

There are rare cases of officials failing to uphold the law as far as human rights protection are concerned. Such cases, which have occurred in detention centers for migrants and in prisons, have acquired wide publicity, but have taken a long time to be processed by the courts system. Independent control mechanisms, such as free media, NGOs and social movements, are very sensitive to such violations. Moreover, in March 2017, Greece was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in a case in which Greek authorities had failed to protect rights of migrant workers.

In the period under review, little progress was been made in a major trial against militants of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Several members of Golden Dawn were accused of assassinating a left-wing rap singer in September 2013 but did not stand trial until November 2015. At the time of writing, the trial is still under way.

In the meantime, the living conditions of approximately 60,000 migrants and asylum-seekers, stranded in detention centers on Greek islands, have not improved. Many reception centers are overstretched as more than 200 people continue to arrive every day, 40% of them are children. Camps suffer from inadequate facilities, violence and harassment of women.

In summary, the state protects civil rights, but in practice organizational and infrastructural obstacles stand in the way of comprehensive protection of these rights particularly with regard to migrants and asylum-seekers.

Citations:
Information on the case of forced migrant labor in Greece is available from Amnesty International, at https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/greece-victory-for-strawberry-pickers-trafficked-into-forced-labour-and-shot/

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
9
Political liberties are well protected by the constitution, including the right to vote, to think and speak freely, to assemble and demonstrate, to organize in collectives such as unions and associations and to submit petitions requiring a timely response by the competent authorities. However, in the period under review, the realization that the Syriza-ANEL government followed in the steps of previous governments on economic and social policy led to protests, such as protests by old-age pensioners, which at various times were suppressed by police forces. In other areas – the right to worship, for example – liberties are affected by the constitutionally imposed impediments on proselytism by religious dogmas other than Greek Orthodox Christianity. For years successive governments were reluctant to allow the establishment of places of worship. For example, the Muslim community of Athens still does not have an officially recognized place of worship (i.e., a state recognized mosque). In autumn 2015, the government proclaimed three make-shift Islamic places of worship legal, although hundreds of other places continued to function without a legal permit. In autumn 2016, the Greek government made available a public space in Athens for the construction of a mosque and in July 2017 the parliament, with 206 votes in favor and 24 against, approved a bill that set aside €946,000 of public funds for the building. This decision will mean that Athens is no longer the only EU capital without an official center of worship for Muslims. However, there is still no functioning Muslim cemetery in the capital’s wider region. Nevertheless, there is progress. In August 2016, the Church of Greece decided to allocate a burial site for Muslims in a public cemetery in Athens (20 hectares of land in Schisto).

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
7
Protection against discrimination on the basis of race has been regulated since 1979, while protection against gender discrimination is regulated by the New Family Law passed in 1983. The European Union’s legislative acts also provide protection from gender discrimination. However, legislation against discrimination has rarely been implemented.

In the period under review, the outcry against racism and the rise to power of a left-wing party, Syriza, contributed to the decline of discrimination. In fact, the opposite of racist discrimination, namely tolerance, solidarity and support of foreigners, was observed in the summer and the fall of 2015, when Greece received a vast inflow of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (210,000 refugees arrived in and passed through Greece in the month of October alone).

Μοreover, Greece recorded the largest improvement in the protection of LGBTI rights between 2015 and 2016, while new legislation passed between 2015 and 2017 grants extensive rights to same-sex couples and recognizes self-proclaimed gender identity for people experiencing gender dysphoria.

Citations:
Family relations are regulated through law 1329/1982, while anti-discrimination legislation is found in law 927/1079 (amended in 2001 to facilitate the intervention of prosecuting authorities against trespassers). European Union law, naturally also applicable in Greece, regulates gender discrimination. See, for instance, the Gender Directive, officially known as Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004.

Information on protection of LGBTI rights is available from https://www.ilga-europe.org/sites/default/files/Attachments/side_a_rainbow_europe_map_2016_a3_small.pdf

Rule of Law

#29

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
7
The state administration operates on the basis of a legal framework that is extensive, complex, fragmented and sometimes contradictory. Formalism dominates legislation. Legal regulations are often not consistently applied. Acts passed by parliament often have seemingly extraneous items added, which only confuses things further.

Since the start of the economic crisis, because of the pressing need to achieve fiscal consolidation, the government repeatedly adapted past legislation to changing circumstances. Many changes have been made to areas such as taxation which, though necessary, have not fostered an institutional environment conducive to attracting foreign investment. Moreover, because of the need to effect reforms rapidly, the government resorted to governing by decree after passing legislation which left ample room for discretion. This practice, already used by previous governments, was exacerbated in 2014 by the ND-PASOK coalition government and has been vigorously continued by the Syriza-ANEL government since early 2015. In short, the practice of frequent and further amendments to recently passed legislation and legislative amendments has continued unabated. On average, a new law is voted on by the Greek parliament every week (research by the Athens-based organization “Dianeosis”). Because of such uncoordinated over-regulation, the legal framework in major policy sectors, such as taxation and foreign investments, still bears loopholes and contradictions.

Citations:
The research report of the Athens-based privately owned research organization “Dianeosis” is available (in Greek) at https://www.dianeosis.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/polynomia_final2.pdf, last accessed on 03.10.2017.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
8
Courts are independent of the government and the legislature. Members of the judiciary are promoted through the internal hierarchy of the judiciary. There is an exception, namely the appointment of the presidents and vice-presidents of the highest civil law and criminal law court (Areios Pagos) and administrative law court (Symvoulio tis Epikrateias), for which a different process is followed. The heads of such courts are selected by the cabinet (the Council of Ministers) from a list supplied by the highest courts themselves. In the past, such higher judges were clearly supporters of the government of the day. Successive governments, including the incumbent radical left/far-right coalition government of Syriza-ANEL, have not resisted the temptation to handpick their favored candidates for the president posts of the highest courts.

Judges are recruited through independent entrance examinations and are then trained in a post-graduate level educational institution. The court system is self-managed. In a formal sense, courts in Greece are able to monitor whether government and administration act in conformity with the law.

Whether courts do so efficiently is another matter, because they cannot ensure legal compliance. They act with delays and pass contradictory judgments, owing to the plethora of laws and the opaque character of regulations. One example of a law-infested policy sector is town planning, where courts have not managed to control the government and administration in a sustained manner. However, in the period under review, the courts showed remarkable independence from the incumbent government. For example, in October 2016, the supreme administrative court (Symvoulio tis Epikrateias) annulled the Syriza-ANEL government’s effort to grant a government minister, rather than the appropriate independent regulatory authority, the power to award nationwide TV licenses. In the period under review, the same court proclaimed the Ministry of Finance’s inspection and re-appraisal of household and business tax declarations, which had been filed more than five years ago, unconstitutional. In October 2017, the court also declared unconstitutional the government’s requirement that a large number of public officials, from higher-ranking judges to low-ranking firefighters, fill out and submit a new, very long and demanding personal asset declaration, including all kinds of property and bank accounts of officials and their family members. In short, courts’ independence from government has increased.

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
6
Before the onset of the crisis, the appointment of justices was almost exclusively managed by the government. Today, candidates for the presidency of the highest civil law and criminal law court (Areios Pagos) and administrative law court (Symvoulio tis Epikrateias) as well as the audit office are nominated by justices themselves. Then the lists of candidates are submitted to a higher-ranking organ of the parliament, the Conference of the Presidents of the Greek parliament. This is an all-party institution which submits an opinion to the Cabinet of Ministers, the institution which appoints justices at the highest posts of the courts mentioned above. Between 2011 and 2014, the government applied the seniority principle in selecting justices to serve at the highest echelons of the justice system. In 2015, the principle of seniority was partly curbed as the new president of the Areios Pagos court was not the court’s most senior member. The same occurred in fall 2017 when the same government appointed a new president, selecting a younger justice over older candidates for the presidency. Meanwhile, the previous president, who had been selected by the Syriza-ANEL government in 2015, had retired and in the summer of 2017 joined the office of Prime Minister Tsipras (the Prime Minister’s Office) as a legal advisor. Under Syriza-ANEL’s rule, the selection and appointment of judges has become more politicized.

Citations:
Law 2841/2010 stipulates that the appointment of presidents and vice-presidents of the highest courts requires the non-binding opinion of the high-ranking parliamentary committee titled Conference of the Presidents of the Greek parliament.

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
5
After Syriza’s rise to power in January 2015, the earlier lack of resolve among political and administrative elites to control corruption was reversed. However, the Syriza-ANEL coalition was undecided on how to steer anti-corruption policy. In January 2015, a new post of Minister for Anti-Corruption was established; in September the post was abolished and a post of Deputy Minister for Anti-Corruption was created and subsumed under the supervision of the Minister of Justice. A new General Secretariat on Anti-Corruption was created under the aforementioned minister, but remains understaffed.

Instability has plagued anti-corruption mechanisms. In March 2017, the resignation and replacement of Greece’s very experienced anti-corruption prosecutor (a new post established in 2011) was a setback for the government’s anti-corruption policy. The prosecutor’s resignation reflected tensions between the government and the judiciary, and complicated relations between the different prosecuting authorities entrusted with fighting corruption. Meanwhile, between 2016 and 2017, the laxity with which government ministers dealt with issues of corruption among members of the civil service sent the wrong message to past and future offenders.

Yet, in the period under review, the justice system intensified its efforts, not so much to prevent as to punish corruption. In the most important trial, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, the former minister of defense and deputy prime minister of the PASOK governments of the 1990s, was accused of receiving large kickbacks for armament deals. In November 2017, he was sentenced to prison and received a very large fine from an Athens-based second-instance criminal court. Meanwhile, throughout 2017, Greek authorities were preparing new anti-corruption legislation to abide by policy guidelines set by the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

According to a July 2017 report by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the state has shown a fragmentary approach, and a lack of determination toward combating corruption and promoting transparency in six kinds of state bodies: ministries, town planning authorities, municipal authorities, courts, custom offices, and economic and trade offices at Greek embassies abroad.

Citations:
https://www.transparency.org/country/GRC, accessed on 17.11.2017.

http://www.sev.org.gr/Uploads/Documents/50462/Special_Report_25_7_2017.pdf, accessed on 11.12.2017.
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