ATHENS – In an historic – if restricted – step, some Greeks living abroad will for the first time be able to vote in their homeland’s national elections, with the Interior Ministry listing the guidelines for those eligible.
Greeks in the Diaspora can vote only if they can prove with state documents that they have lived in Greece for two years over the past 35 years, with no information available on how many, or how few, that would be.
That effectively dilutes the full-bore voting rights that the Diaspora had been seeking, with the New Democracy government instead going ahead with a limited scheme that will require people abroad to apply online when a website is set up this summer.
The application will be connected to the database of the education, labor and national defense ministries for the issuing of the necessary certificates and applicants will also have to have Greek tax ID numbers and filed a tax declaration in the current or previous year.
Ministry officials reportedly ruled out any connection between the ministerial decision and the possibility of an early election, said the newspaper Kathimerini.
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 that will cut out a large part of the Diaspora from voting.
Mitsotakis described the bill, approved in December, 2019, 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 being forced into concessions reducing how many can vote.