Greek Parliamentarians debated the bill on the voting rights of Greeks abroad from their place of residence on Wednesday until late into the evening. They finally voted the bill in with 288 votes in favour, from the 296 lawmakers present.
The right of Greeks abroad to vote in elections has been part of the Greek Constitution for 44 years, however this is the first time that a move has been made to allow the diaspora to exercise its constitutional rights.
The discussion kicked off early in the day with rapporteurs of the political parties in the plenary kicking off the debate on which there was a broad consensus bearing in mind the discussions that had already taken place before the drafting of the bill by the relevant committees.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the bill of the interior ministry. “The institutional barrier between Greeks and Greeks abroad is being abolished,” Mr Mitsotakis said. “Today’s meeting can be described as historic. It paves the way for all Greeks towards a better tomorrow. We are giving flesh and bones to the recent constitutional fortification for Greeks abroad to vote from their permanent place of residence. This was proposed by the New Democracy party but it managed to gain widespread cross-party support. It is an example of consensus.
“From the first moment, I expressed the desire for it to have the support of all 300, but this does not seem to be the case. Nonetheless, we are nearing 291. I am making a last call to Mr (Yanis) Varoufakis, so that his party (MeRA25) can support this.”
So far, all parties with the exception of MeRA25 showed their support for the bill, which needs to be voted by at least 200 deputies in order to pass. MeRA25 has shown support for the bill following improvements made by Interior Minister Takis Theodorakis, however the party has stated that it will only vote in favour of certain articles in the bill.
The Bill was presented to Parliament on Wednesday, and, amongst others, had the following measures:
- The vote of Greeks abroad would have equal measure with any other vote of Greeks within the country;
- Voters abroad would be able to exercise their right at a voting centre, provided there are at least 40 voters;
- There will be 15 rather than 12 deputies of state from now on, of which three will be on registered ballots abroad and one of the three will be in the top spots of ballots;
- Greeks abroad will be able to exercise their voting rights from abroad provided they have lived for at least two years in Greece over the last 35 years and are on the tax registry if they are over 30 years of age.
Mr Mitsotakis appeared almost apologetic over some of the provisions, but he stated that these compromises were necessary to ensure consensus.