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Greek Left Votes Down Bill to Remove Diaspora’s Voting Restrictions

Diaspora vote
The Greek Parliament failed to approve the lifting on restrictions for the Diaspora vote. Credit: AMNA

Greek leftist parties on Wednesday voted in Parliament against an amendment that would have removed all restrictions for the Diaspora to vote in national elections.

The amendment proposed by the governing New Democracy party was only supported by the center-left Movement for Change and populist New Solution. SYRIZA, the Communist Party, and Yanis Varoufakis’ Mera25, voted against.

The amendment to the current law needed a two thirds majority to become law and, therefore, it was rejected as the leftist opposition holds more than 100 seats in Parliament.

In late 2019, for the first time in history, all the parties in Parliament agreed to make it easier for the Diaspora to vote from their places of residence.

However, in order to achieve consensus, the government retreated from its goal to allow the Diaspora to vote without restrictions, and accepted two main requirements imposed by the opposition: Those eligible to vote must have had a two-year stay in Greece for the last 35 years and for those over 30 to be tax-registered in Greece.

SYRIZA calls for lifting on Diaspora vote restrictions

The issue of the amendment was raised in April, after Theodora Tzakri, a SYRIZA MP responsible for diaspora affairs, said in an interview with The National Herald that Greeks living abroad were being subject to “unjust and degrading limitations” with regards to their right to vote in Greece’s national elections.

She said the leftist party would remove these restrictions if it returned to power. Almost immediately, the governing party introduced the amendment, hoping that the largest opposition party would eventually support it.

However, SYRIZA, did another of its characteristic U-turns and voted against it on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reacted angrily in a long Facebook post in which he accused SYRIZA of “petty partisan self-interest” in blocking the easing of restrictions of the right to vote for the Greek Diaspora.

“Unfortunately today, the country has lost the opportunity to give Greeks living abroad the right to vote unhindered in national elections from their place of residence,” Mitsotakis said.

The Greek PM vowed to use the 2019 law, by “exhausting the many possibilities it offers,” in order to bring the Greek Diaspora closer to Greece.

Online platform for Diaspora registration

A new online platform paving the way for Greek citizens who live abroad to vote in the next national elections back home is now live.

The platform allows Diaspora Greeks to register their details so that they can cast their ballot – whenever the next national election takes place – at their place of residence.

The implementation the 2019 law on the voting rights of Diaspora and overseas Greeks aspires to correct any injustices felt by Greeks living abroad, as they, along with the Irish, were the only European citizens who could not vote in their own country from anywhere in the world, even if they are only away for a few days’ holiday on election day.

It should also be noted that there are no current time constraints on registering online for those wishing to do so. However, as Interior Minister Makis Voridis also pointed out, the entire registration process should be completed within a reasonable timeframe before the elections, just like voter registration within Greece.

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