ATHENS – Having backtracked on promises to let Greeks abroad vote in general elections, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras – just before July 7 snap polls he's expected to lose – got a letter from them protesting their being shut out.
In their joint letter, the Greek communities of Brussels, Germany, Amsterdam, Malta, Norway, Iceland and the Greek association of students on Cyprus said they had asked for "the recognition of a right that should be self-evident, the right to vote in these national elections from our place of residence,” said Kathimerini.
Current legislation is "unfair" for the majority of Greeks living and working abroad, they added, noting that Tsipras' government had committed to bring legislation for the vote of Greeks abroad in January.
"You did not keep your promise and we feel cheated,” they said about another his broken promises, adding to four years of reneging on anti-austerity vows which saw his popularity plummet fast.
"It was within your control to grant the right to vote to all Greeks abroad from their place of residence. Without excuses, without delays, without loopholes," they wrote. "That would have been truly fair. But you did not do it."
In October, 2018, after saying it would and then wouldn’t, SYRIZA said it planned to eventually give Greeks living abroad the right to vote in elections in their homeland.
“It is our duty to go to all lengths necessary to secure for those people the ability to participate in the political life and public life of our country,” Interior Minister Alexis Haritsis said in his introductory speech to a parliamentary committee looking at the idea, said Kathimerini.
There are as many as one million Greeks living abroad, the numbers swelled by an exodus of scores of thousands during a more than 8 1/2-year long economic and austerity crisis that saw many, especially the young and talented, flee in search of a job and a better life but ministry officials said they believe not many will vote.
In July, less than two months after he said would look favorably on allowing voting rights for Greeks abroad, Tsipras changed his mind and barred it and now has changed his mind again.
Speaking then for New Democracy, which has twice submitted proposals for legislation to allow Diaspora Greeks to vote in national elections, lawmaker Makis Voridis 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.