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Greece elects their first woman president

Greece elects their first woman president

The head of Greece's top administrative court, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was elected the new head of state following a historic parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

A cross-party majority of Greek lawmakers endorsed Sakellaropoulou as the successor to the current president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose term is set to expire in March. 63-year-old Sakellaropoulou becomes the first woman in the history of Greece to hold the top office.

While the president's authority is limited by the constitution, the officeholder is the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces and is often consulted on important affairs in an advisory capacity.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested Sakellaropoulou, a well-known progressive judge, for the post which she is expected to hold for the next five years.

"The time has come for Greece to open up to the future," he said last week.

The move was backed by Mitsotakis' conservative New Democracy party, but also by the opposition Syriza party led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who praised Sakellaropoulou as an "exceptional judge" and a defender of human rights.

The-Thessaloniki-born Sakellaropoulou is the daughter of a Supreme Court judge. She studied law in Athens and completed her post-graduate studies at Sorbonne in Paris.

Balance instead of confrontation

Despite her decades-long career in the top tier of the Greek judiciary, Sakellaropoulou is considered a political outsider and has no party alliances.

Speaking to DW Greek, political scientist Stella Ladi noted that Sakellaropoulou preferred balance to a confrontation during her judicial career.

"And this exact attitude is especially important for the presidential office," the Athens-based expert said.

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