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Voting rights for Greek expats

A new bill concerning the voting rights of Greeks living abroad is expected to be submitted to Parliament. As is known, a majority of 200 votes is required for the legislative proposal to be ratified. This increased majority in the 300-seat House is necessary because the votes of expatriates are believed to have an impact on the composition of the electorate, thus necessitating a broader consensus.

Why should the right to vote or be elected be restricted to Greek territory?

The rules differ from those applied when Parliament votes to change the electoral system. In that case, if a two-thirds majority is not achieved, the new electoral system comes into effect after the next election. However, in the case of voting rights for Greeks residing abroad, such an option is not applicable: It’s either 200 votes or nothing.

It is only natural for a Greek citizen living, for example, in Mozambique, to have the opportunity to vote in their country of residence without incurring expenses and inconvenience. Why should Greek lawmakers deny them this opportunity? Why should the right to vote or be elected be restricted to Greek territory? And on what basis do some believe that expatriates are less interested in their homeland and therefore should not have a say in who governs? Why are Greek residents who occasionally exercise their voting rights considered more responsible citizens than Greek expatriates?

These questions, along with many others, will need to be addressed by opposition lawmakers. As it is known, the votes of the PASOK socialists alone will not be sufficient to reach a majority of 200. Therefore, the consensus of a third party is required, which comes with inherent risks. In order to achieve the goal of securing 200 votes, the government will be compelled to make substantial changes to its bill, which, however, may alter its nature. This was also the case with the previous relevant law, which resulted in approximately 23,000 Greeks voting in their countries of residence in the May elections and a little over 17,000 in the June elections. Let us not witness the same outcome again.