The negative reactions of expatriates to the law regarding their being able to vote from where they live are fully understandable, justified, and expected. They have been recorded in a series of articles by The National Herald.
Indeed, the obstacles and restrictions on the exercise of the right to vote are great and often insurmountable.
If they seem deliberate, it is because they are deliberate. Because the Leader of the Opposition insisted that restrictions be added to prevent the vast majority of expatriates from voting.
Conditions were established which created two categories of voters (if such things are ever proper in a democratic country): those inside Greece and those outside. Because they do fear our votes.
Isn’t it outrageously demeaning to be considered second-class citizens? Is it not unacceptable – especially for those of us who are financially weak – to force us to travel to Greece to vote ‘normally’, without any obstacles, instead of being able to vote from the places where we live?
That is why Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his colleagues fought a battle to prevent this. He fought to give expatriates the same voting rights as Greeks living in Greece. What could be more normal and democratic than that?
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister did not have the 2/3 supermajority (200 MPs) in Parliament that the Constitution requires to pass the necessary changes.
After that, the question that was asked was, do we go “all or nothing”? Do we give a vote to the expatriates even if truncated, or not pass it at all?
The decision was to go ahead with it – and we believe that this was a good beginning, believing that the opportunity that comes from Kyriakos Mitsotakis being in the Prime Minister’s office, and him knowing us, will eventually lead to our full rights becoming registered in the Constitution. Someday, sooner or later, under different circumstances, we believe we will be granted a normal and equal right to vote.
Now there is also a percentage of expatriates who believe that we should not be able to vote in Greek elections, so as not to create divisions among expatriate Greeks.
I do not see such a possibility at all. It is the case that expatriates of dozens of ethnic minorities in the United States have this right.
Secondly, the Greek expatriates do watch what is happening in the homeland. They are informed about developments in Greece. They discuss the issues, but they are not as fanatical as they used to be. Just as people in Greece are not as bigoted as they used to be.
So, on the contrary, voting will be beneficial for both Greece and expatriates.
Now, the elections are approaching. It is a matter of a few months. And this is an election that is particularly important for the future of Greece and historic for the Greek-American community – even if just a few of us can vote.
The ‘window’ for registering to vote is closing soon. Do not let this opportunity pass.
And if you can’t vote from here, make the sacrifice – those of you who can – and ‘fly’ all the way to Greece to vote.
You owe it to Greece. And to yourself.