Greece (Hellas), officially the Hellenic Republic is a Parliamentary Republic. The Hellenic Republic is a unitary State organised on a decentralised basis; it comprises two levels of governance, the central – state governance and the local self-government. The former is exercised centrally (government-ministries) as well as at a decentralised level, while the latter is exercised at regional and municipal level.
The President, elected by Parliament every five years, is Head of State. Although the President of the Republic has limited political power, as most power lies with the government, his/her duties include formally appointing the Prime Minister, on whose recommendation she/he also appoints or dismisses other members of government, she/he represents the State in its relations to other States, proclaims referendums etc.
The Prime Minister is Head of Government. The Ministerial Council, consisting of the Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ministers without portfolio, is the collective decision-making body that constitutes the Government of Greece. General elections are normally held every four years unless the Parliament is dissolved earlier. The electorate consists of all Greek citizens who are 18 years of age. Each new Government, after a general election or after the previous government’s resignation, has to appear before Parliament and request a vote of confidence.
The Hellenic Parliament is the supreme democratic institution that represents the citizens through an elected body of Members of Parliament, whose core activity is legislative work and the exercise of control over Government. It consists of 300 Members, elected through direct, universal, secret and simultaneous ballot, for a term of four years, by citizens who are eligible to vote. Voting is compulsory.
Legislative power is exercised by the Parliament and the President of the Republic.
Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and the Government.
Judicial power is vested in the courts of law, whose decisions are executed in the name of the people.
The constitutionally established Judicial system of Greece consists of two jurisdictions, the administrative and the civil/penal, which are in turn organized in three instances: the courts of first instance (lower courts), the courts of appeal (higher, appellate courts) and the Supreme Courts.
The country’s supreme courts are:
- The Council of State (Symvoulio tis Epikrateias), which is the supreme administrative court,
- the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos), which is the supreme civil and penal court and
- the Court of Audit (Elegktiko Synedrio), which has jurisdiction on the audit of the expenditures of the State, local government agencies and other legal entities.
Greek judges belong to one of these two jurisdictions; thus, an administrative judge is not entitled to judge a penal or civil case, while a civil judge is not entitled to judge an administrative case.
Since 1 January 2011, the Hellenic Republic has comprised seven Decentralised Administrations. Decentralised Administrations are units of the central state in the relevant territory. They are not a level of local government but decentralised representations of the state. They exercise general decisive responsibility on State matters in accordance with Article 101 of the Constitution.
Municipalities and Regions constitute the first and second-level of local self-government
The "Kallikratis" programme, which has been in full force since Jan 2011, focused on restructuring decentralized administration, reducing the number of municipalities, as well as enhancing them by conferring new functions to local level. The "Kallikratis" reforms also introduced concrete measures to address the financial crisis by enhancing transparency, supporting innovation and the use of new technologies, ensuring the financial autonomy of local authorities and strengthening their role in the formulation and implementation of policies at local level.
Regions are responsible for the administration of affairs of their district. They shape, plan and implement policies at regional level as part of their responsibilities under the principles of sustainable development and social cohesion of the country, taking into account of national and European policies. Presently, there are thirteen regions throughout the country. The former Prefectures (nomarhies) largely still exist but are now called Regional Units (Perifereiakes Enotites) and form administrative and territorial constituent parts of the Regions.
Municipalities are responsible for the administration of local affairs. They manage and regulate all local matters in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proximity with the aim of protection, development and continuous improvement of the interests and the quality of life of local society.
Between the two levels of local self-government there are no relations of control and hierarchy, but of cooperation and collaboration, which are developed according to the law, common agreements, as well as with the coordination of joint actions.
Ministries involved in Education
Education in Greece is mainly centralized and governed by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs at all levels. The Ministry exercises control over public schools, formulates and implements legislation, administers the budget, coordinates national level university entrance examinations, sets up the national curriculum, appoints public school teaching staff, and coordinates other services. One of the oldest ministries, established in 1833, it is responsible for running the country's education system and for supervising the religions in Greece.
Although the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs has primary responsibility for education, there are also other Ministries involved in some special branch of education;
- the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (private pre-school education and care settings, Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS, Vocational Training Institutes/IEK)
- the Ministry of Culture and Sports (Higher Schools of Dramatic Art),
- the Ministry of Interior (municipal pre-school education and care settings),
- the Ministry of Tourism (public schools of tourism education),
- the Ministry of Health (Vocational Training Institutes of the National Emergency Aid Center), and
- the Ministry of National Defence (Military Academies).