Greece will elect its first woman President on January 22 after leading opposition parties approved the government’s nomination of top judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou. Main opposition leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said Sakellaropoulou was an “exceptional judge” and a defender of human rights. The socialist KINAL party also said it would support the nomination of the 63-year-old current head of the council of state, Greece’s top administrative court. A total of 200 votes is required to elect the new President for a five-year term. Sakellaropoulou is on track to secure over 260 votes. The term of incumbent President Prokopis Pavlopoulos ends in March. The President is nominally the head of the Greek state and the post is largely ceremonial. The historic step would, analysts said, go some way to redressing Greece’s poor record of appointing women. In the last government, just five were given cabinet positions. The French-educated judge broke the mould when she was elevated as the first woman to the helm of the country’s highest court in October 2018.
WHO IS EKATERINI SAKELLAROPOULOU?
Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou was born in Thessaloniki in 1956 and completed her studies at the University of Athens Law School in 1978. She also completed her legal training during a leave of absence from her Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Court, duties at the Sorbonne, Paris II University between 1989 and 1990. Sakellaropoulou was promoted to head of the Council of State in October of 2018, proposed by the ruling SYRIZA administration of that time. She has extensive experience in teaching, as well as an educational and Foreign Ministry consultant, and as an officer of the judges’ union. The longtime judge has served as President of the Hellenic Society for Environmental Law since 2015, and has actively worked on large cases involving the environment, including the diversion of the Acheloos River in Thessaly and the preservation of the historic refugee buildings on Alexandras Avenue in Athens. An author of several books, the distinguished jurist also speaks English and French. Regarding her personal life, Sakellaropoulou is divorced and a mother of one, and she lives in central Athens. With Vijay Sonkhia, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.