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Our View: Our lawmakers approve laws they know are unconstitutional

Deputies returned to the legislature, which was technically in recess, on Friday in order to vote on three laws that President Anastasiades had referred because they were in violation of the constitution. Despite being fully aware of the unconstitutionality of the laws, the opposition parties rejected the referrals of two of them, in a blatant show of utter contempt for the constitution.

What does it say about the country when lawmakers approve laws they know are in violation of the constitution? More unnecessary work would be created for the Supreme Court, to which the president is now obliged to refer the unconstitutional laws for the ruling that is a foregone conclusion. These are the lengths, to which the populist political parties will go in order to pander to the public.

The bill regarding the payment of a state pension to widowers, submitted by the government, would have been applicable from this year, but Akel and Greens amended it so it would be applicable retroactively. As a result, the cost of €3.4 million budgeted by the government would increase more than 10 times to €42.3m this year. By 2020 the government expected to pay €20m, but with the amendment the cost for the three years would balloon to €130m.

Everyone knew the amendment was unconstitutional because it would lead to an increase in state expenditure, but the parties approved it because the government’s law was deemed unfair. Defending the legislature’s irresponsibility, the shameless populist, Giorgos Perdikis proposed that the government could cover the extra cost by increasing the contributions of workers and businesses to the social insurance fund! Everyone should have their monthly disposable income reduced so that Perdikis could pose as the caring populist who supports the welfare of widowers.

Meanwhile, the rest of the opposition parties voted against the referral because the law was “unjust”, discriminating against men that had become widowers before 2018. They knew they were fighting a lost cause, but wanted to score a few, cheap political points; perhaps they felt they would win the widower vote in the next elections.

The parties also rejected the referral of the law, which they amended so as to prevent the government introducing exams every four months at public schools. They suspended the implementation of law for a year, in order to satisfy the teaching unions that opposed it. This was a clear case of interference in the authorities of the executive – a violation of the separation of powers safeguarded by the constitution – but such matter do not concern our country’s lawmakers.

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