GR US

On the Shameless Disenfranchisement of Greek Citizens of the Diaspora

Ευρωκίνηση

File photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bolari.

The latest failure to secure the necessary enhanced majority of 200 votes in the Greek Parliament to pass an amendment allowing all Greek citizens living abroad (who are otherwise entitled to vote when physically present in Greece) to vote from their place of permanent residence represents a gross injustice against the Greek Diaspora committed by Greek political parties.

These are the same parties responsible for most of the ills plaguing the Greek people, including the protracted economic crisis, the deliberate altering of the population, and the precarious position in which the nation finds itself due to errors and negligence in the areas of diplomacy and defense.

For historical reasons, the names of the parties that voted against the bill, thus allowing an issue that has been resolved even in third-world countries, not to mention EU member states, to linger as a blemish to the polity, are cited here: SYRIZA, the Greek Communist Party, and MeRA25. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the other parties don’t bear a share of the responsibility for the disenfranchisement of Greek citizens living abroad.

With Greeks abroad being deprived of their voting rights solely for ideological reasons and expediency, it appears that the perennially bickering supposedly leftist parties have found common ground. Posing as crusaders against fascism, these parties are buried in their Don Quixotesque fantasies and dreams of universities overrun by anarchy, non-existent borders, protests that punish only the poor working stiffs who have to punch a time card because they don’t have the luxury of playing pretend revolutionaries from their couch, and bullying anyone with an opinion different that theirs (which isn’t really even theirs, because it is a directive of the party elite), while in actuality, they are really fomenting it through their unilateral and antisocial behaviors. Therefore, the insistences of Greece’s faux left parties on the alienation of most Greek citizens from their constitutional rights shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The fact that their justification for this stance is completely incongruent with what the left seems to be calling for internationally regarding simplification of the voting process and non-exclusion of citizen groups manifests the hypocrisy of these political posers and just how reactionary their tactics can be when it suits them.

Still, the parties from the rest of the Greek political spectrum are not beyond reproach. For example, the ruling New Democracy party may have tried to pass legislation to remedy the disenfranchisement of Greek citizens living abroad, but the outcome was a foregone conclusion due to the regression characterizing the ‘progressive’ parties. The government and parties supporting the legislation claim that their hands are tied, citing the enhanced two-thirds majority foreseen by the Constitution as the cause of the continued stagnation. Is this really true, however?

According to Mr. Andreas Stalidis, founder of the Antibaro website and columnist for the newspaper Estia, the government has not exhausted all its options. In an interesting article published on April 14, 2021, he proposes that all Greek citizens (whether living in Greece or abroad) be facilitated through the option of absentee ballots, so that everyone entitled can cast their vote from their place of residence.

Since the law would apply to all Greek nationals, like the elderly, the sick, people residing outside of their voting district, members of the military, travelers, in addition to all those who have migrated outside of Greece or those temporarily living outside the country, the constitutional provision for a two-thirds enhanced majority no longer applies. The government could pass the bill with a simple majority of 151 votes, just like all other legislation pertaining to voting.

This is a truly progressive and practical measure that should be implemented by a government that claims to desire a solution to the long unresolved issue of voting rights for Diaspora Greeks, without having to be subject to blackmail from every opposing political hack. Meanwhile, a future administration that would attempt to abolish this measure would face the wrath of not only the Greeks of the Diaspora, but also local voters, who are forced into unnecessary expenditures and needless travel just to cast their vote, as if it couldn’t be counted from their place of permanent residence.

Of course, as exacerbating and irrational as the exclusion of most Greek citizens living abroad from voting is, we cannot overlook the ‘silver lining,’ because it excludes them from actively having to choose their next would-be tyrant. Imagine how foolish past voters must feel when their party does a complete 180-degree turn, like the current ruling party’s decision to back the Prespes Deal that it campaigned against, or the previous government’s support of the hated memoranda that it once denounced as unconstitutional.

The mockery of the electoral body by Greek politicians is downright flagrant and one needs to think long and hard about participating in this parody of a democracy. Still, the continued injustice perpetrated against Hellenism of the Diaspora is shameless and needs to be denounced.

Nonetheless, this should in no way suggest that Greeks of the Diaspora should place involvement in Greek politics above community affairs. Let’s not forget that Hellenism was kept alive and flourishing by the Diaspora before the modern Greek state was even established or administratively perverted by its Bavarian rulers.

Greek Education remains in a protracted crisis in the United States at every level, while major organizations are duking it out in the courts over petty infighting by the same old faces instead of trying to come up with solutions.

The participation of Diaspora Greeks in elections is all well and good, but their engagement in local community affairs through active participation and discourse is far more important. Greek Communities must undergo a major overhaul to thrive in the 21st century, and if history is any indicator, it’s unlikely that the solution will come from the Greek Parliament.

Follow me on Twitter @CTripoulas