THE LEGISLATURE, the Attorney-general and the interior ministry’s election service are in a quandary over what to do about the parliamentary seat that has been vacated after the Supreme Court’s ruling that the swearing in of Solidarity candidate Georgios Papadopoulos was unconstitutional. The law passed by the legislature to reverse the first annulment by an electoral tribunal, to which a Disy candidate for Limassol had appealed, was incompatible with four articles of the constitution and the democratic principle of the sovereignty of the people, the Supreme Court ruled.
Two years after the parliamentary elections the matter remains unresolved. The Attorney-general Costas Clerides has proposed that the executive drafted a bill that would amend the constitution as well as the electoral law so that Papadopoulos could take the vacated seat. For the amendment of the constitution, two thirds of deputies must vote for it. Clerides argues that a legal resolution of the matter would be problematic as it could be overturned by the courts if there was an appeal. Another option would be a by-election, which Solidarity has no chance of winning. The seat would most probably be won by Disy, which is why most parties are opposed.
The problem was caused by MEP Eleni Theocharous who stood in the parliamentary elections, in order to boost Solidarity’s showing while having no intention of giving up her seat in the European Parliament. It was blatant deception of the voters. Before she had been sworn in, Theocharous declined the seat, which went to the Solidarity candidate with the second highest number of votes. The law however, does not allow a candidate to turn down a seat before being sworn in, which was why Papadopoulos’ swearing in was declared null and void by the court.
Theocharous declined the seat because if she had been sworn in, she would have relinquished her seat at the European Parliament. After the court ruled that Papadopoulos was not entitled to the seat, the Solidarity Party drafted the law, backed by most parties and subsequently ruled unconstitutional, allowing him to be sworn in again. The amount of trouble caused by Theocharous’ devious and irresponsible behaviour seems to have no end. It is outrageous that Clerides has proposed the amendment of the constitution for what is a trivial matter.
As one lawyer pointed out on Thursday the only justification for amending the constitution is if the state cannot function. The law has a perfectly good remedy for the situation without the need to amend the constitution – the holding of a by-election. It would also be a very good punishment for Theocharous as Solidarity’s candidate will have no chance of winning the vacated seat.