Greece gets first female president

FILE PHOTO: President of the Council of State, Greece's top administrative court, Katerina Sakellaropoulou speaks during an event in Athens, Greece, October 18, 2018. Vassilis Rebapis/Eurokinissi via REUTERS

Katerina Sakellaropoulou was elected to become Greece’s first woman president on Wednesday. Her election was deemed to be a rare display of unity.

Sakellaropoulou, 64, has been president of the Council of State, Greece’s top administrative court. She will succeed Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose five-year term expires in March. 

The conservative party nominee was backed by opposition parties, including the leftist Syriza party which lost power in an election last July, Her nomination was backed by 261 MPs in the 300-member parliament.

Sakellaropoulou, from the northern city of Thessaloniki, became the first female head of the Council of State in 2018, supported for that position by the then leftist government. 

For decades, failure by parliament to elect a president in Greece could lead to a snap election. Following a recent reform, the process to select a president can go up to five voting rounds in parliament with the threshold starting at 200 votes and gradually falling to the majority of those present in the room.