The Greek cabinet  approved a draft bill which will allow Greeks abroad to vote in Greek elections from their place of residence last week.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos urged the political parties to cooperate in passing the bill into law when introducing the legislation to Greek Parliament.
“We cannot deprive expatriates of their right to participate in the political life of the country. It is dictated by the Constitution but is also our obligation towards them when we know how much we owe them and how much they can renew the political life of the country through their participation and their ideas,” he underlined.
However hope that the proposed bill giving Greeks living abroad the right to vote Greek elections will pass was dealt a serious blow when Opposition parties declared their opposition to the proposed legislation. This does not augur well for the fate of the proposed bill because it needs 200 of the 300 MPs to support the bill for it to become law.
Andreas Loverdos, a PASOK deputy and the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, indicated that PASOK will oppose the bill.
PASOK is unhappy that its calls were not heeded for a postal ballot and for the creation of constituencies for Greeks abroad so that they can directly elect MPs to Parliament.
Syriza (The Left Coalition) has adopted a similar position.
KKE has also expressed its opposition to the bill, saying that it would have a disproportionate effect on the election result.
The Right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally said that it is largely in favour of the bill.The proposed legislation gives the right to vote to Greeks that are permanently resident abroad and those that are stationed abroad, either working for Greek foreign services or as employees of international organisations. These will be included in special electoral rolls to be compiled and regularly updated by Greek consulates.
Those wanting to vote would have to register with the Greek embassies or consulates in their place of residence.
They will be able to vote only for the party of their choice, not specific candidates. Their votes will be counted at the embassies or consulates by an electoral committee and the results announced at the same time as those in Greece.
Every party would have to include three Greeks living abroad on their State List, which is made up of 12 candidates that do not stand in any specific constituency but are elected to Parliament based on the proportion of the vote received by their party. The minister clarified that the proposed bill will be transitional, since this would be the first time that the Greeks abroad would vote in elections.
Once it had been tested in practice, the government would then examine the possibility of representation for specific regions abroad and ways in which the Constitutional provision for a postal vote might be implemented in practice.
He also explained that the votes of expatriates participating in the elections would be added to the total of those voting throughout the country and in this way, their percentage would also be taken into account when calculating the allocation of seats in Parliament to each party.
By tabling the draft bill in Parliament, the government was fulfilling the pledge it had originally made in 2004 to bring a draft law executing the Constitution and thus give Greeks abroad the chance to vote, Pavlopoulos stressed.