Greece’s Interior Minister Makis Voridis presented a bill which lifts restrictions for the registration of Greeks abroad in special lists of foreign voters.
Tabled in parliament on Monday, the bill adjusts two major standing criteria: the duration of one’s stay in Greek territory and the submission of tax returns.
The Interior Ministry’s elections directorate will be deciding on approvals and rejections of applications for registration in foreign voters’ lists.
The bill abolishes the intra-party committee which was looking into application rejection appeals among other tasks.
The conservative New Democracy government is presenting the bill in order to end strict limitations on voting rights for Greeks abroad, after Theodora Tzakri from the main opposition SYRIZA party said that those in the diaspora had “unfair and devaluing limitations”.
Greeks living abroad will be able to vote in the next Greek national election, however there are numerous prerequisites in order to do so. These included showing proof that they lived in the country for two of the previous 35 years via evidence such as a national service certificate, proof of social security contributions and degrees from Greek universities.
This meant that the majority of Greeks living abroad would be excluded from getting voting rights, however those who left Greece during the economic crisis following 2010 would be able to vote in Greek elections from their country of residence.
For a polling station to be created, however, there need to be at least 40 registered voters and the number of registrations will determine polling stations and their locations.
The bill was described as “truly historic because it responds to a long-standing demand and a present need, opening the way for a better tomorrow for all Greeks.”
“With the legislative initiative of the government, for the first time, Greek voters living abroad have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote from their place of residence,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said on Monday during a press briefing where she called on the main opposition SYRIZA party to vote for the bill.