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GreekReporter.comDiasporaBill Easing Vote for Greeks Abroad Gathers Wide Support

Bill Easing Vote for Greeks Abroad Gathers Wide Support

Vote Greeks Abroad
The bill is expected to secure a wide majority in the Greek Parliament. Credit: AMNA

A bill that will make it easier for Greeks abroad to vote in national elections passed through the relevant committee of the Greek Parliament by a wide majority vote on Friday.

It will be debated in plenary this coming week before it is put to vote, where it is expected to secure a wide majority.

The current legislation poses a series of limitations to the ability of Greeks residing abroad to vote.

Although Greeks nationals were able to exercise their right to vote from abroad for the first time in the 2023 general elections in May and June, critics pointed out that the Greek diaspora was mostly absent, as only 22,816 out of millions of Greeks residing all over the world were entitled to vote – an enormous gap from the 300,000 citizens that Greek officials had previously estimated that they wanted to have a say in the next election.

Greek diaspora welcomes bill on the vote for Greeks abroad

Representatives of the Greek diaspora welcomed the lifting of restrictions.

“We are the soul and voice of Greece abroad. We promote and support national issues. The future of Greece is our future as well,” representatives of Greeks abroad from Europe and North America told the committee, and called on all parties to support the draft law.

They also criticized as “unfair and unacceptable” the conditions set by the current law on Greeks voting from abroad.

They also asked for the future expansion of the law to include the right to vote by letter and the creation of electoral districts abroad.

Representatives providing opinions at committee reading included those of Greek communities in France, Brazil, Germany, and the medical association of North America.

Majority in Parliament supports the Bill

Based on the initial positions of the parties, a majority of 220 MPs appears to be agreeing with the legislation, with the rapporteurs of the ruling New Democracy, socialist PASOK, the far-right Spartans, nationalist Niki and populist-left Plefsi Eleftherias giving the green light.

The number is just over the 200-MP threshold (two-thirds of the total) required to apply the legislation during the next general election.

On the contrary, main opposition SYRIZA, the Communist Party (KKE) and the hard-right/populist Hellenic Solution will not support it.

The bill is formally named “Revoking restrictions for the registration in special voter registration lists of voters living abroad” and is addressed to both Greek nationals living permanently abroad as well as to Greeks who happen to be abroad during election day.

Some of the restrictions the bill abolishes include the length of stay in Greece (2 years during the last 35 years) before voting and to have filed taxes during the current year or the previous one from the year of elections.

These restrictions prevented the majority of voters abroad from participating in elections. The Greek Constitution provides the option of introducing voting restrictions on voting from abroad but does not mandate them (Article 54, Paragraph 4), leaving that right to Parliament’s discretion.

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