Greece will introduce postal voting, a historic first for the country, for next year’s European Parliament elections, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday.
He said that postal voting would also be used in the next general elections irrespective of whether voters are in Greece or abroad.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Athens, the Greek Premier said that postal voting has been adopted by most states, and it is time to be applied in Greece too.
Postal voting in Greece to combat “abstention and inaction”
“It is a brave reform, it widens the electorate that participates in elections and is the most powerful answer to abstention and inaction,” Mitsotakis stressed.
He pointed out that many groups of citizens, including the elderly, students, and seasonal workers far from their place of residence, can participate in the election procedure through the postal vote while adding that the activation of this possibility in the elections for the European Parliament next spring would be followed in the national elections.
Mitsotakis announced that the system for the election of the twenty-one Greek representatives to the European Parliament would also change.
Voters will determine their representatives rather than party leaders as has been the practice until now, he said.
“I believe that the first say in the election of each national representative, whether we are talking about the National Parliament or the European Parliament, should ultimately be given to the citizen, not the leader of each party through a list of designated MPs,” he added.
Postal voting follows diaspora voting from country of residence
The PM said that postal voting is a “brave institutional reform’ that follows his government’s initiative in 2021 to allow the diaspora to vote without having to fly back home.
Until then, Greece was the only country in Europe—and perhaps the entire Western world— where full citizens living abroad were denied the right to vote in Greek elections from the country of their residence, either by casting a ballot at the Greek embassy or through postal voting.
Although participation of Greeks living abroad in the last elections of 2023 was disappointing due to bureaucratic obstacles, it was a step forward.
Two main requirements were accepted and imposed by the opposition in 2021. Those eligible to vote must have had a two-year stay in Greece in the last thirty-five years, which is difficult if not impossible to prove, and those over thirty must be tax-registered in Greece.
The bureaucratic conditions imposed and the cumbersome process of finding and certifying the required documents have been discouraging for most of the diaspora.