Procedures for a vote of confidence in the government were set in motion on Sunday following an announcement by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he will seek to renew Parliament’s mandate so that his government can complete its term with an absolute majority.
The prime minister’s announcement came after the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party announced its departure from the ruling coalition.
In the case that his bid is unsuccessful, the constitution dictates that the country must hold snap elections. The document clearly defines when a government has lost parliament’s confidence and can no longer continue to rule.
However, the prime minister has laid down a time schedule regarding the snap election, saying that the main criterion for choosing the time of the elections will be the stability of the economy. He noted that he feels he must not leave “important initiatives that have begun, and are underway, unfinished.”
Included among these projects is the work underway to revise the constitution, the agreement for Church-State relations, and the protection of primary residences. He also desires to complete his work on reforming rent subsidies and the 120-installment debt settlement schemes as well as raising the minimum wage.
It should be noted that the committee for revising the constitution plans to conclude its work at the end of January, while the process requires that the plenary hold two votes spaced at least one month apart.
Under article 84 of the Greek Constitution, the government can only legitimately govern when it has been given a vote of confidence from the Hellenic Parliament.
A vote of confidence can be sought by the government, not the opposition, which only has the right to bring forth a motion of censure in the government once every six months. However, the motion may be brought sooner if it is signed by an absolute majority of MP’s.
The debate on either a vote of confidence or a motion of censure begins two days after it is brought forth for debate. A vote of confidence can be passed by a majority of the MP’s who are present in Parliament when the vote is held, provided this comprises at least 120 votes (two-fifths of Parliament).
If the motion passes with less than an absolute majority of 151 MP’s, the resulting government has a “vote of tolerance”.
A motion of censure, on the other hand, can only be passed by an absolute majority of 151 MP’s.
The vote must always be held via a roll-call vote, according to article 141 of the Greek Constitution.