Today, 41 years after the fall of the Junta, it is a common belief that it is a time for a major section in the way in which Democracy works in Greece. It is time for brave decisions that will completely change the relationship between citizens and politics. This change can only be achieved through major sections. A brand new electoral system is the ultimate section.
Potami submits a proposal for the revision of the electoral law, stirring up the hornet’s nest in the electoral system. This proposal responds, for the first time, to the constant request of the Greek Diaspora to exercise their voting right and to be represented in the Hellenic Parliament. This proposal is the decisive step away from the failure of the Greek political system and a major step closer to ensuring the voting right and the representation of the Diaspora in the country’s political life. It seems that the voting right of Greeks living abroad is locked in the dark and backward-looking cells of the Greek political system. It has been on and off the table for years now. But, for several reasons, we never managed, as a nation, to fulfil the objective of our Constitution.
Article 53, paragraph 4 of the Constitution, anticipates, among others, that “the law voted by the majority of two thirds of the total number of deputies, can specify matters pertaining to the exercise of the right to vote by persons living outside the Country”.
The most recent registered attempt to regulate this issue took place in 2009, with the proposal submitted by Mr Pavlopoulos, who was back then the Minister of Interior. Yet, reaching the necessary absolute majority of the Parliament, so that it can become a law, was not possible.
Unfortunately, Greece is one the two countries from all E.U. countries, along with Ireland, which do not grant the right to vote to citizens living outside the country. This is one more national success!!
The European Court of Human Rights pointed out the patent violation of the European convention of Human Rights on the Constitutional law, given that it has never been implemented in Greece. Two Greek citizens living in Strasbourg, turned to the European Court of Human Rights, when they were denied their right to vote in 2007 national elections. They tried to do so in the Greek Consulate but their request was rejected. Greece was, indeed, condemned in 2010 by the European Court of Human Rights.
For many years, hypocrisy and omnipresent populism dominated the country in regards with the voting right of Diaspora. On one hand, there is an attempt, not so successful so far, to reinforce the ties of Metropolitan Greece with expatriates, and, on the other hand, the retrenchment of the political system, with its constant denial to grant the voting right to what we like to call “second Greece”.
The question that rises in who is in and who stays out, in these years of crisis, which led to the financial migration the last 6 years.
Especially, at a time when 80% of migrants head for European destinations and 50% of migrants moved to UK, or Germany.
It is truly sad, considering that Greece does everything within its power to repel its citizens. Unemployment rates rocket, while you people are deprived of their right to have a say in their country’s political life. You feel like you are an outcast.
Potami tries to solve this complicated equation, with specific proposals.
Who holds the right to vote?
Greeks living abroad have the right to vote and be registered in Greek electoral catalogues, set up by the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with Consulates and Embassies.
Who are candidates?
Candidates must live abroad, at least for five years and have the right to stand for election.
Elections are held in consulates and embassies, buildings owned by Greek authorities and churches. There is also the possibility of postal ballot paper (as is explicitly anticipated by the Constitution), as well as the possibility of electronic vote.
Greek voters living abroad must have the possibility to choose the way in which they will vote, taking into account their personalized objective circumstances, for example, if they are PC literate or not, if their residence is far away from the place where they elections are held, etc.
Nowadays, practically every European Union country grants its expatriates the right to vote in national parliamentary elections.
- through elections that take place in consulates and embassies
- with postal ballot papers (which is the most widespread practice)
- Or the combination of these two methods
- Moreover, some European countries have also allowed electronic voting. Estonia is the first country, in a worldwide scale, to have ever held elections through internet, in March 2007. Back then, only 3.5% of the voters made use of this possibility, inside and outside the country. Today, 32% of voters votes electronically in national, local and regional elections.
- Finally, it is worth mentioning that there are countries like Italy, Portugal, France and Croatia, which have adopted the representation of their expatriates, either in their National Parliaments, or in the Senate. This is our proposal submitted today.
How will deputies living abroad will be elected?
Deputies from the Diaspora are elected in single member constituencies, just like is the case in Greece. Therefore, each vote counts for the election of the deputy, not in the PanHellenic counting.
Elected deputies from the Greek Diaspora have the same rights and obligations, as the deputies of the Greek periphery. Elections are held through voting by cross and the seat is attributed to the candidate that has won most of the votes.
Single member constituencies outside Greece will be determined by the Committee that will be established by the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of the Greek Diaspora.
This is a proposed contribution of single-member constituencies:
- Two in USA – Canada – Northern America
- Two in Europe
- One in Oceania – Africa – Asia
Director of the Parliamentary Group of To Potami
Photo credit: Theodore Manolopoulos