Ekaterini Sakelaropulu, first head of state of Greece

Judge Ekaterini Sakelaropulu, who was already the first woman to lead the Greek Supreme Administrative Court, was elected on Wednesday a new head of the Greek State with broad support from Parliament.

The candidacy of Sakelaropulu was proposed by the Executive of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, of the conservative New Democracy party, and supported by the leftist Syriza, and the center-left coalition Movement of Change.

"To propose to me is to honor Justice and the contemporary Greek woman," Sakelaropulu said after confirming his candidacy for office.

Precisely Mitsotakis said after knowing the election of Parliament that the new president is "a great personality, a great judge that unites us all".

"Greece enters a new era today, the country enters the third decade of the 21st century with a woman president. I wish Mrs. Sakelaropulu a successful presidency," Mitsotakis said.

This change in the head of state could be a push towards greater equality in the country, which until now tops the list of the member states of the European Union (EU) in gender inequality, according to data from the European agency for equality .

Greece gets the worst results in inequality just in access to power. In its Parliament only 18% of the seats are occupied by deputies and among the executives of large companies there are 9.3% of women.

In spite of everything, the reality of deeply macho Greece prevails. To begin with, in modern Greek the word "president" does not exist, it is only in masculine, so you will have to address it officially as "madam president".

In addition, Sakelaropulu will be the first Greek head of state who will not be able to access a part of its territory. Precisely because of its gender, it will not be able to enter the Monthe Athos, an Autonomous Monastic State, which although it is under the jurisdiction of Greece, is governed by its own laws and does not allow the entry of women or any female animal.

Born in Thessaloniki in 1956, daughter of the vice president of the Greek Supreme Court Nikolaos Sakelaropulu, she studied Law at the University of Athens and a postgraduate degree in Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Paris II, as well as her predecessor, Prokopis Pavlopulos, who got a PhD there in Public Law.

In 1982, Sakelaropulu entered the Supreme Administrative Court (State Council) and in 2018, she was appointed president of that institution by the Government led by Alexis Tsipras, thus being the first woman to preside over the Administrative Supreme and now, only two years later , in becoming head of state.

When last week Tsipras confirmed that his party would vote in favor of Sakelaropulu, he called it "a very good judge, who has always defended with justice Justice, human rights and the non-denominational state."

With a special sensitivity for the environment, as a judge she has spoken out against the pharaonic project to divert the Aqueloo river and in favor of the conservation of historical constructions, such as the buildings on Alexandras Avenue in Athens, built in the thirties to accommodate Hellenic refugees after the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922, today in very bad conditions.

Between 2005 and 2014, Sakelaropulu taught Environmental Law at the National School of Judges.

In addition, he has defended the elimination of religion in the DNI in a country where the Orthodox Church retains great power, both over society and over institutions.

Sakelaropulu has also ruled in defense of the right of children of migrant families born in Greece to access Helena citizenship and the schooling of refugee children. It is possible that the immigration policy of the Mitsotakis Government is one of the points that most clash during his tenure.

New Democracy has emphasized since it came to power in July to reduce migratory flows, tighten refugee conditions and take them off the streets, even announcing the gradual replacement of refugee camps in the Aegean Islands by Detention Centers of Foreigners (CIE), something that probably does not fit with the vision of the new head of the Hellenic State.


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