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Politics

SYRIZA Opposition Blocks Voting Rights for Greece’s Diaspora

ATHENS – A bill that would have given voting rights to Greeks abroad was defeated in Greece's Parliament after resistance from rivals of the New Democracy government, led by the major opposition SYRIZA.

The measure required at least 200 votes in the 300-member Parliament and got 190, from the government's 158 lawmakers and backing from the Movement for Change KINAL and ultra-populist Greek Solution.

But 87 Members of Parliament didn't vote and opposition from SYRIZA the KKE Communists and the marginal MeRA25 led by the Leftists former finance chief Yanis Varoufakis was enough to stymie it.

The measure was one of those most heralded by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who after the defeat made an exclusive statement to The National Herald that it fell because of the “small-minded party interests of SYRIZA”.

He added of his rivals: “Its short-sighted party viewpoint undermined once again a national necessity,” although the leftists apparently were worried that Greeks abroad would tilt toward the Conservatives.

Technically, the bill would have removed all restrictions for the Diaspora to vote in national elections – which New Democracy did after SYRIZA said it would not otherwise support it – but then voted against its own idea.

In 2019, Mitsotakis proposed a Diaspora vote but said it would be t would be very limited and apply only to those who had a two-year stay in Greece for the last 35 years and for those over 30 to be tax-registered in Greece and those abroad could vote only for a handful of seats in Parliament.

In April this year, Theodora Tzakri, a SYRIZA lawmaker responsible for diaspora affairs, told The National Herald that Greeks living abroad were being subject to “unjust and degrading limitations” and that SYRIZA would lift the restrictions if it came to power again.

But after Mitsotakis lifted the restrictions, the leftists voted it down apparently so as to not give New Democracy the credit for allowing the Diaspora vote.

“Unfortunately today, the country has lost the opportunity to give Greeks living abroad the right to vote unhindered in national elections from their place of residence,” Mitsotakis said.

Earlier in May, representatives of the Greeks living abroad, who said they numbered 7.5 million or three quarters of Greece's population, told Interior Minister Makis Voridis they wanted to be able to vote in national elections.

They said all Greeks abroad who were registered on voting lists should be able to vote from their place of residence with the option of mail-in ballots as well.

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