BY MORGAN GSTALTER, The Hill
Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a high court judge and human rights activist, on Wednesday was elected Greece’s first female president by the country’s Parliament with an overwhelming majority.
Sakellaropoulou, who is not a member of a political party, earned support from 261 members in the 300-seat legislative body during the historic parliamentary vote, The Associated Press reported.
She will succeed current conservative President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose five-year term expires in March.
In her first remarks as president-elect, Sakellaropoulou vowed to pursue the “broadest possible consensus” in carrying out her official duties. She noted “difficult conditions and challenges of the 21st century, including the financial crisis, climate change, the mass movement of populations and the consequent humanitarian crisis, the erosion of the rule of law and all manner of inequalities and exclusions.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated Sakellaropoulou, who enjoys broad support across the major political parties in Greece, AP noted.
After the vote, he referred to the judge as a “great jurist, a great judiciary personality who unites all Greeks from the minute this procedure began.”
He added that he wanted to choose a candidate who would “symbolize the youth of the Greek nation, and I am glad that the result confirmed that on the big issues, we can finally agree.”
Mitsotakis faced criticism after winning the general elections last year for selecting nearly all men to serve on his Cabinet, AP noted. Currently, all but one of the 18 senior positions are held by men.
Sakellaropoulou, 63, has already broken barriers. In 2018, she become the first woman to serve as president of the Council of State, which is Greece’s top administrative court.
The Guardian reported that the French-educated judge is known for championing civil liberties, ecological issues and minority rights.