In the early hours of Friday the Greek parliament voted in favor of a bill that will regulate the voting rights of the Greek diaspora.
Out of a total of 296 parliamentarians present, 288 voted in favor, 1 abstained while 7 voted against the bill.
New Democracy, SYRIZA, KINAL (PASOK), KKE and the Greek Solution voted favorably while MeRA25 voted against the bill. Mr. Varoufakis’ party held a negative stance towards the bill as they deemed it to be too restrictive in terms of who is made eligible to vote.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Takis Theodorikakos, shortly after the completion of the voting process stated that “What we achieved today, is indicative of the need of political consensus on issues that concern our national interest and the democratic rights of Greeks. It is truly great for our political system and national unity that we achieved such a wide consensus, albeit it took us 45 years”.
About the bill
The bill foresees that the voter can exercise his/her right only in person; that is in the polling stations which will be set up in embassies, consulates and suitable venues of Greek diaspora organizations. For a polling station to be constituted a minimum of forty registered voters is required.
According to the bill, the right to register in the electoral rolls is reserved to Greeks fulfilling the following criteria:
– Having lived for a total of 2 years in Greece during the past 35 years.
– Having submitted a tax return to the Greek authorities during the election year or the one preceding it.
*Exempt from this criterion are those under the age of thirty provided that a sibling has submitted a tax return statement during the aforementioned course of time.
In terms of the documents required to prove one’s residency in Greece for a period of 2 years, the interested party will have to submit one of the following:
– Either a Greek school or Greek university certificate or one from a vocational school.
– A certificate of payment of social security contributions.
– A certificate proving the fulfillment of military obligations.
It is worth noting that those interested in exercising their right to vote will have to submit an online application through a dedicated government portal which is foreseen to launch by the coming February.
The bill in question also foresees that Greek diaspora voters will have the right to elect only candidates who are the party’s slated “state deputies” (called “vouleftes epikrateias” in Greek) and not the parliamentarians that represent a particular regional constituency.
This means that the total number of state deputies in parliament will most likely increase from twelve to fifteen so that political parties can accommodate candidates from the diaspora.
It is up to each political party to decide if it will reserve more than one position for diaspora candidates.
According to official estimates the number of diaspora Greeks affected by this bill amounts to 340,000, while the State General Accounting Office estimated that the cost for putting in place the necessary infrastructure to accommodate Greek voters from the diaspora will reach 9 million Euros.