Greece has just elected their first ever female president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, as the high court judge and ardent human rights advocate received overwhelming support from MPs.
Sakellaropoulou was nominated by the ruling conservative New Democracy party, but also managed to secure the backing of the main opposition party Syriza and the center-left Movement for Change.
In the parliamentary vote on Wednesday, the 63-year-old received support of 261 MPs in the 300-seat Parliament, way above the 200 required by the constitution.
Inaugurating a new era for one of Europe’s more traditional nations, MPs overwhelmingly endorsed the nomination of Katerina Sakellaropoulou as head of state. No woman has held the post in the nearly 200 years since Greece proclaimed independence.
“Today a window to the future has opened,” said the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after 261 deputies in the 300-seat House voted in favour of the French-educated jurist assuming the role. “Our country enters the third decade of the 21st century with more optimism.”
Breaking through gender barriers is not a new thing for the president-elect. She was the first woman to serve as the president of the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court. She held that position for 15 months until Wednesday’s election.
Her election was immediately applauded by the EU commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, in a tweet praising Greece for “moving ahead into a new era of equality”.
An expert in environmental and constitutional law, Sakellaropoulou will take the oath of office on 13 March, when she will formally succeed Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former conservative minister who has held the largely ceremonial position for the past five years.