After SYRIZA Rebuff, New Democracy Pushes Diaspora Voting Rights Anew

New Democracy headquarters in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi, File)

ATHENS – After Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras reneged on promises to back voting rights for Greeks abroad in the Diaspora, the major rival New Democracy, which brought the measure, said it would nevertheless try again.

The Conservatives proposal would let Greeks already registered to vote in the country’s electoral districts to cast ballots for candidates on a single nationwide ticket and vote at embassies and consulates.

But it’s being blocked by SYRIZA and its junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) led by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who, despite being an ideological rival, offered Tsipras unconditional support on almost every issue except the Macedonia name giveaway allowing the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) call itself North Macedonia.

New Democracy’s deputy spokesperson Sofia Zaharaki said the measure could take effect for the next general election but Tsipras is resisting with polls showing he’s far behind the Conservatives after repeatedly breaking his promises to reverse austerity measures.

“SYRIZA and ANEL have no excuse to turn it down,” said Zaharaki although the government already has effectively killed it by setting up a committee to look into it although it’s been investigated and discussed for decades.

That is generally a political ploy to bury an issue until it’s forgotten and not act on it. New Democracy lawmaker Makis Voridis earlier accused the government of procrastination.

“Greeks abroad, both those who left a while ago and those who left the country more recently, are anticipating (the measure,)” he said.

“We do not accept piecemeal reforms. Have the courage to make it happen. It’s the mature thing to do and you will find a spectrum of consensus,” Voridis added, addressing SYRIZA lawmakers face-to-face without a response.