Supreme Special Court

In Greece, the Supreme Special Court (Greek: Ανώτατο Ειδικό Δικαστήριο) is provided for in the article 100 of the Constitution of Greece. It is not a permanent court and it sits only when a case belonging to its special competence arises. It is regarded as the supreme "constitutional" and "electoral" court of Greece. Its decisions are irrevocable and binding for all the courts, including the Supreme Courts. However, the Supreme Special Court does not have an hierarchical relation with the three Supreme Courts (the Court of Cassation, the Council of State and the Chamber of Accounts). It is not considered higher than these courts and it does not belong to any branch (civil, penal, administrative) of the Greek justice system.

Composition

According to the article 100 of the Constitution the Supreme Special Court comprises eleven members. Namely:

  • the presidents of the three Supreme Courts,
  • four members of the Court of Cassation, chosen by lot for a two-years term,
  • four members of the Council of State, chosen by lot for a two-years term.

The Court is presided over by the seniormost president of either the Court of Cassation or the Council of State.

When the Supreme Special Court: a) resolves the conflicts between the administration and the courts or between the administrative and the civil courts or between the Chamber of Accounts and the other courts, or b) resolves a dispute about the constitutionality of a legal provision or about the real meaning of a legal provision, then the Court comprises two extra members: two (full) professors of Law, appointed by lot.

History

The history of the Supreme Special Court is quite short, as it was first founded by the Constitution of 1975. Its organisation and function is regulated by the article 100 of the Constitution of 1975/1986/2001 and the Law 345/1976. Germs of this Court exist in the article 73 of the Constitution of 1952 (providing for a special electoral court) and in the constitutions of the military junta (1967-1974), providing for a special court resolving the disputes between the Supreme Courts.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Special Court is strictly defined by the Constitution (article 100). Hence:

  • It judges pleas against the validity of the results of the legislative elections
  • It controls the validity of the results of the referendums.
  • It decides the deposition of a member of the Parliament, according to the constitutional provisions.
  • It resolves the conflicts between the administration and the courts or between the administrative and the civil courts or between the Chamber of Accounts and the other courts
  • It resolves a dispute about the constitutionality of a legal provision or about the real meaning of a legal provision
  • It decides whether a rule of international law belongs to the customary international law.

The Court as the "Supreme Electoral Court"

Since the Supreme Special Court has the power to issue an irrevocable and binding decision, with which a member of the Parliament loses her or his position, it becomes the "supreme electoral court". According to the article 58 of the Constitution, the court examines pleas concerning electoral violations or lack of legal qualifications of candidates. It also controls whether a member of the Parliament has undertaken duties incompatible with her or his office. These incompatible duties are enumerated in article 57 of the Constitution. If the Supreme Special Court ascertains the incompatibility of the undertaken duties, the deputy loses her or his office "by operation of law".

The Court as the "Supreme Constitutional Court"

In Greece every court controls the constitutionality of the laws and there is no "permanent" Supreme Constitutional Court, as in Spain, Germany etc. If any court judges a legal provision as "unconstitutional", it decides not to apply it, but it has not the power to declare the legal provision "null and void". This restriction is also binding for the Supreme Courts, which declare the unconstitutional legal provision "inapplicable". Nonetheless, if a case concerning the constitutionality of a law is introduced into the Supreme Special Court (after the issuing of contradictory decisions of the Supreme Courts), the Court has the constitutional right to declare an unconstitutional legal provision as "powerless". This means that the unconstitutional legal provision still exists (it is not formally "null and void"), but it is expelled from the Greek "law and order".

The decision of the Supreme Special Court, declaring the unconstitutionality of a legal provision is final, irrevocable, binding for every Greek court, including the Supreme Courts, and judges the matter once for ever. No court has the right to take a different decision for the same legal provision in the future. If a court of first instance or a court of appeals or even a Supreme Court had judged the same matter in a contradictory way before the issuing of the decision of the Supreme Special Court, it is obliged to reverse is judgement and to reissue it in accordance with the Supreme Special Court's decision.

Another "Special Court"

The Supreme Special Court of article 100 must not be confused with the "Special Court" of article 86 of the Constitution. This last "Special Court" is an ad hoc court, competent to judge alleged criminal acts of members of government (previous or in service), committed in their official capacity only (i.e. not common criminal or civil offenses committed in their personal capacity) and only when impeached by Parliament. It is also competent to judge the President of the Republic, if impeached by Parliament for intentional violation of the Constitution or for high treason. In such cases, Parliament acts as the prosecuting attorney and the defendant(s) may be represented by lawyers of their choice, as in any court.

This "Special Court" comprises seven judges of the Court of Cassation and six judges of the Council of State, chosen by lot. It is presided over by the seniormost judge for the Court of Cassation.

See also

1853 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 23 September 1853. Supporters of Antonios Kriezis won a majority of the 138 seats. Kriezis remained Prime Minister.

1856 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 6 October 1856. Supporters of Dimitrios Voulgaris won a majority of the 138 seats. However, Voulgaris remained Prime Minister only until 25 November the following year, when he was replaced by Athanasios Miaoulis.

1861 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 16 January 1861. Supporters of the Athanasios Miaoulis-led coalition won a majority of the 138 seats. Miaoulis remained Prime Minister.

1862 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece between 24 and 27 November 1862. The elected Parliament was also responsible for drawing up a new constitution. Dimitrios Voulgaris became Prime Minister on 23 December as head of the Provisional Government.

1873 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 27 January 1873. The United Opposition won 95 of the 190 seats. Epameinondas Deligiorgis remained Prime Minister.

1874 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece in June 1874. The United Opposition won 96 of the 190 seats. Dimitrios Voulgaris remained Prime Minister.

1990 Greek legislative election

Early parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 8 April 1990. The conservative New Democracy party of Constantine Mitsotakis, was elected, defeating the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of Andreas Papandreou. In order to be able to command a majority of 151 in the 300-seat Parliament, New Democracy had to secure the support of Theodoros Katsikis, Democratic Renewal's sole MP. Shortly after Mitsotakis was given a confidence vote, Supreme Special Court, after a mistake in seat calculation was detected, gave New Democracy a 152nd seat.

Administrative divisions of Greece

Following the implementation on 1 January 2011 of the Kallikratis Plan, the administrative divisions of Greece consist of two main levels: the regions and the municipalities. In addition, a number of decentralized administrations overseeing the regions exist as part of the Ministry of the Interior, but are not entities of local government. The old prefectures were either abolished and split up or transformed into regional units in 2011. The administrative regions are divided into regional units which are further subdivided into municipalities.The Eastern Orthodox monastic community on Mount Athos is an autonomous self-governing entity.

Administrative regions of Greece

The administrative regions of Greece (Greek: περιφέρειες, peripheries) are the country's thirteen first-level administrative entities, each comprising several second-level units, originally prefectures and, since 2011, regional units.

Cabinet of Greece

The cabinet of Greece, officially called the Ministerial Council (Greek: Yπουργικό Συμβούλιο), constitutes the Government of Greece (Greek: Κυβέρνηση της Ελλάδας). It is the collective decision-making body of the Hellenic Republic, composed of the Prime Minister and the Ministers. One or more Ministers may be appointed Vice President of the Government (Αντιπρόεδρος της Κυβερνήσεως, Deputy prime Minister), by decree initiated by the Prime Minister. Ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Council defines and directs the general policy of the Country, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws. It is regulated by the Constitution of Greece.

The Council meets at the building of the Hellenic Parliament. The meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister.

Conference of Presidents (Greece)

The Conference of Presidents is a collective institution of the Hellenic Parliament. Its role is to improve the functioning of Parliament through cooperation between the Speaker of the Parliament and the Presidents of the Committees. It was introduced by the Standing Orders of 1987 and found its constitutional sanction in the Amendment of 2001.

Constitution of Greece

The current Constitution of Greece (Greek: Σύνταγμα της Ελλάδας, Syntagma tis Elladas), was created by the Fifth Revisionary Parliament of the Hellenes in 1974, after the fall of the Greek military junta and the start of the current Third Hellenic Republic. It entered into force in 1975 and has been revised three times since, most significantly in 1986, and also in 2001 and in 2008.

The constitutional history of Greece goes back to the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832), during which the first three Greek constitutions were adopted by the revolutionary national assemblies. Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos) in Athens is named after the first constitution adopted in the modern Greek State.

Geographic regions of Greece

The traditional geographic regions of Greece (Greek: γεωγραφικά διαμερίσματα, literally "geographic departments") are the country's main historical-geographic regions, and were also official administrative regional subdivisions of Greece until the 1987 administrative reform. Despite their replacement as first-level administrative units by the newly defined administrative regions (Greek: περιφέρειες), the nine traditional geographic divisions—six on the mainland and three island groups—are still widely referred to in unofficial contexts and in daily discourse.

As of 2011, the official administrative divisions of Greece consist of 13 regions (Greek: περιφέρειες)—nine on the mainland and four island groups—which are further subdivided into 74 regional units and 325 municipalities. Formerly, there were also 54 prefectures or prefectural-level administrations.

Greek constitutional amendment of 1986

The Greek Constitutional amendment of 1986 was proposed in order to limit the powers of the President of the Republic. Although the president had been vested with considerable powers under the 1975 Constitution, in practice Greek presidents largely took a ceremonial role. Nevertheless, by virtue of their mere existence they influenced the development of political affair during the first co-existence of Constantine Karamanlis as President of the Republic with the government of PASOK from 1980 to 1986. The responsibilities of the President of the Republic were the target of the revisionary proceedings of 1985-1986.

On March 6, 1986, pursuant to article 110 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the provisions of the Constitution are subject to revision except for those which determine the form of government as a Parliamentary Republic as well as certain other provisions, eleven articles were amended and a vote was passed transposing the text of the Constitution into demotic Greek.

Through this revision, the responsibilities of the President of the Republic were curtailed to a significant extent--codifying actual practices dating from the end of military rule in 1974. Despite the political and the constitutional tensions of that period, the revised Constitution of 1975/1986, which introduced a pure parliamentary governmental system, was accepted by all political powers.

Judiciary of Greece

The Judicial system of Greece is the country's constitutionally established system of courts.

Parliamentary Committees (Greece)

The Parliament of Greece naturally assumes legislative responsibilities within the framework of the state, a key part of this parliamentary process (in any liberal democracy) is the establishment and running of Parliamentary committees on all manner of state decisions. There are several different types of Parliamentary committee within the Greek system.

Politics of Greece

The politics of Greece takes place in a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Greece is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Hellenic Parliament. Between the restoration of democracy in 1974 and the Greek government-debt crisis the party system was dominated by the liberal-conservative New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία – Nea Dimokratia) and the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα – Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima, ΠΑΣΟΚ/PASOK).

The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The Constitution of Greece, which describes Greece as a "presidential parliamentary republic", includes extensive specific guarantees of civil liberties and vests the powers of the head of state in a president elected by parliament. The Greek governmental structure is similar to that found in many other Western democracies, and has been described as a compromise between the French and German models. The prime minister and cabinet play the central role in the political process, while the president perform some executive and legislative functions in addition to ceremonial duties. Voting in Greece is compulsory but is not enforced.

Super-prefectures of Greece

The super-prefectures of Greece (υπερνομαρχίες, sing. υπερνομαρχία) were a second-degree organization of local self-government and an administrative division between the regions and the prefectures. They were each headed by an elected but largely ceremonial super-prefect, with most of the prefectural duties performed by the prefects under the super-prefect. The super-prefectures were:

Athens-Piraeus super-prefecture (Υπερνομαρχία Αθηνών-Πειραιώς or Νομαρχιακή Αυτοδιοίκηση Αθηνών - Πειραιώς)

Drama-Kavala-Xanthi Super-prefecture

Rhodope-Evros Super-prefecture

Trade unions in Greece

Trade unions in Greece include:

GSEE

ADEDY

PAME

Greek Trade Union of Cleaners and Housekeepers

Anarcho-Syndicalist initiative Rocinante.

Constitutional rights
History of the Constitution
Present constitution
Interpretation of the Constitution

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