ATHENS – Going back in time to the crucial Battle of Salamis in which competing Greek city states came together to defeat the Persian navy and stave off conquest, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reached out to political rivals to back a plan to finally give Greeks abroad a vote in national elections they’ve been denied.
“I keep repeating that we are too few to be divided. And this first big lesson goes back 25 centuries,” he noted, trying to find common ground among the bitter grounds of todays’ political landscape when it’s nearly impossible to get support from a different party for any idea.
He said New Democracy’s plan – different from the partial vote preferred by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which wants to limit the diaspora’s impact was “an offering to this global Hellenism,” the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported he said.
He noted that after Greeks came together against the Persians that the country came into its Golden Age with the ideas that live today and did not perish but flourished, creating the ideals of Western Civilization.
“In our times, the challenges are different. Waves of refugees and migrants are now besieging countries. The crisis is not just about borders and economies. It is also about the environmental threat,” he added.
:Democratic rules and rights require new processing. Europe is called upon to measure up to its ideals in order to respond to all this. And Greece needs to renew its role as a symbol of democracy and culture and as a meeting point for the people on the road towards progress,” he said.
After years of delays, a measure that would let Greeks living abroad vote in national elections will go to Parliament in November under a New Democracy scheme after it’s debated by a panel including rival parties.
The government is reaching out to the opposition because while it has 158 of the 300 Members of Parliament, a majority, the bill for the vote abroad needs 200 and the major opposition while SYRIZA has 86 seats.
That means New Democracy needs at least 42 votes of the 66 held by the remaining parties, the center-left Movement for Change, the KKE Communists, the populist Greek Solution and former SYRIZA finance chief Yanis Varoufakis’ MeRA25 party.
Mitsotakis wants to allow Greeks abroad vote electronically while opposition parties want stricter conditions, including economic and tax activity shown in Greece even though they’re living in another country, and putting a limit on how many years they can live elsewhere, forcing them to return to Greece at some point if they want to vote here.
The opposition also wants ballot boxes set up in embassies and diplomatic missions said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, noting that only SYRIZA, ousted in July 7 snap elections, is opposed to giving a full vote, its idea limiting how many Members of Parliament it would affect.
A cross-party committee to discuss the New Democracy will will be set up soon, Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos said, with a letter being sent to other parties asking them to appoint a representative for the committee after Mitsotakis met rival party leaders.
Talking on SKAI radio, Theodorikakos called on SYRIZA’s leader to participate in the panel, underlining that the need for compromise on all sides if there is to be consensus, saying that the only non-negotiable point is that the vote of diaspora Greeks should be equal to that of those voting in their country – a precondition that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras rejected last week, arguing that it would “distort the country’s political balance.”