ATHENS – After saying it would and then wouldn’t, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA now says it plans to eventually give Greeks living abroad the right to vote in elections in their homeland, and it could come as soon as the May, 2019 elections for European Parliament – which could coincide with snap elections in Greece.
“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.
He said the panel would conclude its report by March, 2019 at the latest and possibly by January if snap elections are called, which would give Greeks abroad the chance to cast votes for the Prime Minister’s race as well.
But some analysts said the scheme is too ambitious and can’t be implemented in the time schedule set by the government, the paper said.
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.
The government, which includes the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, rejected a proposed by the major rival New Democracy to amend voting laws so Greeks living overseas can vote in general elections as ex-patriates of many countries living abroad can, including Americans in Greece.
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.