On Friday, Greece prepared to swear in the first woman president in its history as the country grapples with more than a hundred cases of coronavirus. Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, a 63-year-old senior judge, will become the new Greek head of state for a five-year term.
She will take an oath in parliament, lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – the largest military monument in Greece – and travel to the presidential mansion for a handover ceremony with outgoing President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said the parliament. Sakellaropoulou was elected to parliament in January by 261 of the 300 legislators, one of the largest multi-party majorities in Greek history. It has defined its priorities in the fight against the economic crisis, climate change and mass migration.
The new president was until now the head of the highest administrative court in Greece, the Council of State. The daughter of a judge of the Supreme Court, Sakellaropoulou studied postgraduate studies at the University of the Sorbonne in Paris. She was the first woman to head the Council of State. Although the President is nominally the Greek Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief, the post is essentially ceremonial. Greek presidents uphold governments and laws and technically have the power to declare war – but only in conjunction with the government. Greece has so far announced 117 cases of coronavirus, one of which died Thursday after ten days of hospitalization. Three people are in intensive care and the government has closed schools and universities, courts, cinemas, gymnasiums and other indoor public gathering places for two weeks to stem the epidemic.