Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Yiannis Bournous responded to questions by Neos Kosmos regarding the derogatory statements he made while on a panel on Kontra TV discussing the voting rights of the Greek diaspora.

During the show, Mr Bournous expressed his conviction that Greeks living abroad should not vote, nor should people get the vote “when they don’t even know where Greece is on a map”.

Mr Bournous said, “There are rules. There are laws. You lost. People who don’t know where Greece is, will not vote.”

In response to questions by Neos Kosmos concerning his stance, Mr Bournous said he was “saddened that an isolated phrase” was used as a premise for an article. He said the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance was “the party which prompted the relevant constitutional change which was voted in 2019 and laid the groundwork for a relevant finding from a Committee of exceptional legal and political experts from a wide range of political perspectives.”

Initially the party had supported that Greeks abroad should be able to freely exercise their voting rights “without preconditions” from their country of residence.

“Greeks abroad would have been able to elect their own representatives in their own regional electorates,” Mr Bourous said.

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“The election of representatives of Greeks living abroad would have taken place via a joint ballot and not via (Greek political) party ballots. At any rate, these were the proposals of the Council of Greeks Living Abroad (SAE). A far cry from the often toxic party squabbles noted in Greece and far from the different networks of influence and corruption which the New Democracy party wishes to export from Greece to Greek communities abroad.”

Mr Bourous is concerned that the conservative ruling party is exploiting voting rights for Greeks abroad for its own benefit, and stated that SYRIZA’s suggestion, which did not have the support of other parties, was a better option.

“As our proposal did not have the support of other parties, nearly all parties of Parliament and the New Democracy government agreed on the 2019 law which establishes voting rights with specific preconditions which were proposed by the Greek Communist Party. These preconditions validate the real ties of voters with the country, which are by far more leniant than the preconditions which Australia requires for its own citizens abroad to have when voting from other countries,” Mr Bourous said.

READ MORE: Diaspora “doesn’t even known where Greece falls on a map”, say leftist deputies opposed to voting rights for Greeks abroad

Mr Bourous was critical of the New Democracy’s efforts to recruit voters, even among Greeks “who only have distant ties with Greece”.

Mr Bourous also sent Neos Kosmos a link containing his speech in Greek Parliament made prior voting against an amendment to the Law facilitating the right for Greeks to vote from abroad.