In a special plenary session on Thursday, and just ten days before the parliamentary elections, the House of Representatives rejected six laws sent back by President Nicos Anastasiades.
The session took place even though parliament officially dissolved on April 23.
According to procedure, should parliament accept the president’s reasons for not signing off, the laws will need to be amended or scrapped. If MPs do not make the suggested changes, the president has the option to sign them anyway, or refer them to the Supreme Court to rule on their constitutionality.
As it turned out, the plenum rejected outright the president’s reasons on five of the laws he sent back, and amended one law in the hopes Anastasiades will sign it when it returns to his desk.
The first law concerned early retirement benefits for those who are not on the labour market and permanently unable to work; it was sent back as unconstitutional as it entails increased expenditure.
Another law no longer requiring someone with irreversible disability to be reassessed at a later stage for the purpose of eligibility for Guaranteed Minimum Income, was likewise sent back as unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers.
The third law, which would include those working as freelancers in the category of salaried employees for social insurance purposes, was deemed by the president to violate labour laws and EU laws on public procurement and would increase government expenditure as it would convert all those offering a service to the government into salaried employees.
Anastasiades also sent back a new law that would allow someone aged 63 to 65 to qualify for sick leave as this would increase social security expenditure and undermine safety clauses protecting the viability of the social security fund.
The fifth law, offering people entitled to take early retirement at 63, the right to claim unemployment benefits, was sent back for the same reasons.
Finally, the president sent back a law introducing the requirement of having very good knowledge of Greek for positions in civil service pay scales of A8 and above, as violating the separation of powers and for amending professional requirements – a responsibility which rests with cabinet.
Here, an Edek MP amended the wording of the original text, to get around the president’s objections. Under the amendment – passed by a majority – wherever a foreign language is required as a qualification in the civil service, it cannot be a requirement that knowledge of a foreign language be equal or greater than knowledge of one of the official languages of the Republic.
The first meeting of the new parliament is set for June 10.