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Solidarity tries to claim vacant seat in parliament

Solidarity's Giorgos Papadopoulos

The Solidarity Movement on Friday submitted a proposal aimed at overcoming legal obstacles that have rendered a seat in parliament they consider theirs, vacant, and caused a protracted court battle that started after the 2016 elections.

The proposal will be put to the vote in a special plenary meeting on Wednesday.

Solidarity MP Michalis Giorgallas censured the interior ministry for not showing interest in resolving the matter.

“Before the risk of creating other complications we are forced to fill Solidarity’s seat in Limassol with a law proposal,” he said.

In April, the Supreme Court annulled the election of Solidarity MP Giorgos Papadopoulos to parliament, after he effectively inherited his seat from party leader Eleni Theocharous. Parliament has been working with 55 MPs since.

The dispute began shortly after 2016 elections when Theocharous ran for MP while maintaining a position in European Parliament as MEP.

After her election as Limassol MP with 3,788 votes, she opted to keep her place as MEP, leaving her seat to the party’s runner-up, Papadopoulos, who received 767 votes.

Former Disy MP Andreas Michaelides filed an appeal on the grounds that he had received 4,734 votes.

The Supreme Court in May 2017 cancelled Papadopoulos’ election but House president Demetris Syllouris, who also belongs to Solidarity, tabled a proposal, eventually voted into law, that allowed seats vacated before an elected MP has been sworn in to go to the next in line of the party.

The best way to resolve the matter would be to amend the constitution but that would necessitate a two-thirds majority in parliament; an impossible feat since ruling Disy with 18 seats opposes such an arrangement and favours a by-election instead.

The new proposal submitted by Solidarity is based on the premise that a by-election would alter the seat distribution of the May 22, 2016 election and violate the people’s mandate.

Giorgallas said the Supreme Court had not annulled the election or the distribution of seats but Papadopoulos’ nomination.

Solidarity believes that Article 69 of the constitution bestows upon a candidate the capacity of MP before their confirmation in parliament so they will seek to plug the hole using this argument.

The constitution initially provided for a by-election in the event a seat was vacated while parliament was in session. That was changed in the 90s by parties who scrapped the by-election and stipulated that a vacant seat would be filled by the parties next in line.

But no provision was made for occasions when the seat is forfeited before the affirmation.

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