Lawmakers in the southeastern European country of Greece elected their first female president on Wednesday. An overwhelming majority voted in favor of Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a high court judge.
According to the president-elect, she seeks the “broadest possible consensus” in the duration of her term. Sakellaropoulou took note of the “difficult conditions and challenges of the 21st century, including the financial crisis, climate change, the mass movement of populations and the consequent humanitarian crisis, the erosion of the rule of law and all manner of inequalities and exclusions.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated the judge as a non-partisan contender who would gain wide support across the country’s political spectrum. Sakellaropoulou received an overwhelming 261-33 vote from all major parties. 200 votes are required to be elected.
History was made with Sakellaropoulou’s election as the country is historically known to have a low number of women in senior political positions. After winning the general elections back in July 2019, Mitsotakis was widely criticized for choosing a nearly all-male Cabinet. 18 positions are currently held by male politicians in the Greek Cabinet.
Giving a statement after the historic vote, Misotakis sang praises for Sakellaropoulou. He described her as a “great jurist, a great judiciary personality who unites all Greeks from the minute this procedure began.”
Sakellaropoulou was head of Greece’s highest administrative court — the Council of State — since 2018. She will take office to start her five-year term in March. By that time, current president Prokopis Pavlopoulos’s term will have expired. Sakellaropoulou will be succeeding the veteran conservative politician.