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January 15, 2013
January 15, 2013

In a constant state of emergency: Legislative Acts

Author: Anna Papoutsi Translator: Eleni Nicolaou
Category: On the crisis
This article is also available in: esel
In a constant state of emergency: Legislative Acts

With the public’s interest skillfully diverted towards the attack against the offices of New Democracy (the governing political party), the Greek Parliament ratified with 166 votes a multi-bill containing 7 Legislative Acts (LAs) that effectively complement the 3rd Memorandum, adopted on November 7th of 2012, with a marginal majority of 153 votes in a climate of unprecedented blackmail and in one single article. From that Memorandum bill some regulations were missing or rather were removed in the last minute; had they remained, getting that bill passed the parliament would be extremely doubtful.

The coalition government, always with the connivance of the Presidency of the Republic, restored these regulations with seven successive LAs bypassing the Greek Parliament. These Acts were finally ratified today by a narrow majority from the Greek Parliament and determine, inter alia, the following:

a) Greece enters a “foreclosure regime” even prior to a court decision, as it is determined that “neither the beneficiary Member-State, nor the Bank of Greece, nor any of their respective assets are excluded from the jurisdiction of foreclosure, due to sovereignty or otherwise, before or after a judicial decision”.

b) Revenues from privatisation and primary budget surpluses are automatically transferred to the special account for the repayment of loans.

c) In the event of a budget failure, an “auto-corrective” mechanism allowing for an automatic cut of costs – even without the Parliament’s approval, but only with the signature of a director of the Ministry of Finance – is established.

d) Troika Commissioners are permanently settled in Greece for the monthly monitoring of the Budget implementation.

e) English law is appointed for all the loans contracted by the Greek state.

f) The exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is appointed, any decision of which will be final and enforceable in Greece.

But what are the Legislative Acts?

Article 44 of the Constitution clearly states that “In exceptional cases of urgent and unforeseen need, the President of the Republic may, after a cabinet proposal, issue legislative acts…”. However, in recent months, article 44 has been turned into a “production factory” of tough and important economic measures.

The method is the following: whenever a partner of the coalition government raises an issue against a regulation, it is withdrawn from the bill in question. Of course, these regulations return and are ratified in the form of LAs within a maximum of 3 months. On the last day of this quarter, the government, invoking some emergency, brings these Acts to Parliament with an urgency procedure and, under the pressure of the disbursement of another tranche, manages to have them passed.

“That certainly raises questions of unconstitutionality and the main point is that there is a discordance between formalities and constitutionality,” says the Professor of Constitutional Law Andreas Dimitropoulos. He even stresses that “Legislative Acts override parliamentary procedures to a significant degree. They may come to Parliament for ratification, but the parliament is faced with a fait accompli. This constitutes an undermining of the parliament and the parliamentary work if done on a large scale. Thus the exemption becomes the rule and we take advantage of the Constitution for a sub-function of the democratic process.”


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In a constant state of emergency: Legislative Acts by Anna Papoutsi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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