Greeks living in Australia may have the right to vote in Greece’s elections after the debate resurfaced this week led by Greek Minister of Interior, Euripidis Stylianidis. Mr Stylianidis told members of the Hellenic Parliament’s Special Committee on Hellenes Abroad, that the right to vote for expatriates was a “critical national issue” and told the committee that many Greek politicians are in favour of giving the vote to Greeks of the diaspora.
As it stands, a working group of the Ministry of the Interior are preparing draft law for expatriates to vote. The law will need to include information on the equality of the voting process; the legitimacy / transparency of the voting process and administrative procedures needed for the votes to take place worldwide. The ministry is also looking at the financial aspect of Greeks abroad voting and the need for the financial impact of the operation to be minimal.
The draft law will be followed by a public consultation and after the suggestions of the parties have been included, will go up as a bill for a vote in the Parliament. Greece views Greeks abroad as a powerful source in promoting Greece’s image as many expatriates around the world are in prominent position. The ministry feel allowing them to vote will ultimately create a strong and more successful Hellenic Republic.
Allowing Greeks of the diaspora the right to vote will also create solid relationships between the countries and Greece and create a better peace and understanding for Greeks of the diaspora and for Greeks in Greece. All the members of the Hellenic Parliament’s Special Committee on Hellenes Abroad expressed their desire to give rights to expatriates to vote. The members of the committee have also discussed the need to solve administrative issues, such as: the registration of expatriates on the electoral lists; how they would vote – postal, with polls, or via internet – and the reliability of these votes; and the costs of voting aboard.
Several members suggested one or two regions abroad are created with electoral seats that could be removed from the ballot territory. However, with the postal vote, the minister raised some concerns. One of them being high cost, as well as the fact that the postal vote does not ensure that the voter is the one voting and not his relative or member of the family.
In contrast, the ballot box is the only unimpeachable vote, but should be seen from the reduction of costs point of view. Interior Minister Stylianidis has described this week’s fruitful discussion as an important first step on the vote of expatriates, stressing a need for constant dialogue on this issue. The President of SAE (World Council of Hellenes), Stefanos Tamvakis, who attended the meeting, expressed his disappointment about the lack of representation of expatriates in the Greek Parliament, stressing though that the Greeks of diaspora do not want their vote to influence the balance of power in Greece. Mr Stylianidis explained that of all member countries of the EU, only Greece and Ireland do not give this right to their expatriates.