ATHENS - Greek citizens living abroad in the Diaspora - or even visiting for short vacations but away from home - will be able to register to vote in the next national elections with an online platform set to open before March 1.
A law passed by the Parliament the New Democracy government controls provides strictly limited rights that will allow only about 300,000 Greeks abroad to vote if they can prove that over the past 35 years they once resided in Greece for an uninterrupted period of two years.
And they will be able to vote only for at-large Members of Parliament, which is 15 out of 300 in the body, and shut out from picking their choice for Prime Minister and other offices, making them essentially irrelevant.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, needing backing from rival parties to get at least 200 votes in the 300-member body - the Conservatives have 158 seats - agreed to measures cutting out a large part of the Diaspora from voting, but touted it as a victory.
Mitsotakis had described the bill as “truly historic because it responds to a long-standing demand and a present need, opening the way for a better tomorrow for all Greeks,” after making concessions
Interior Ministry sources told Kathimerini the details for the platform still haven’t been worked out though, days before it was set to become operative, but that there wouldn’t be a time limit on registering.
The registration platform is “almost ready,” sources not named insisted to the paper, adding it must be properly linked to other government departments to facilitate access to and the sharing of documents from the unified network.
The law was aimed especially at voting rights for Greeks who fled the country after 2010 when a near-decade-long economic and austerity crisis left them without work, most saying they didn’t plan to come back permanently.
A key factor will be establishing the number of voters who successfully register on the online platform, and their places of residence, as they will form the “electoral body of Greek citizens abroad,” the paper said.
Voting will be conducted in person at polling stations around the world set up and supervised by the Greek Interior Ministry. For the establishment of a polling station in a region, the legislation specifies, there must be at least 40 registered voters.
The final number of registered voters will, therefore, determine the number of polling stations required and their locations. Whomever registers an intent to vote from their place of residence will automatically forfeit their right to vote in Greece, however.