NEWS

Greek gov’t seeks to change rulebook

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU, ARISTOTELIA PELONI

TAGS: Politics, Diaspora

Seeking to avoid a head-on collision with Panos Kammenos, the leader of former coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), the government said Thursday it is mulling a change in the rules that will allow the right-wing party to retain its parliamentary group.

Currently, a party can have a parliamentary group with a minimum of five lawmakers. However, ANEL is facing the prospect of being left with four lawmakers. Under the change, however, Aristidis Fokas, an MP who entered Parliament on the ticket of the Union of Centrists but joined ANEL in September, would be allowed to be counted as a member of ANEL’s parliamentary group, even though he was elected with a different party.

The government’s move is seen as a bid to appease ANEL’s growing hostility to the government, reflected in Kammenos’s threat of “war” if ANEL’s parliamentary group is dissolved.

In response, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Thursday that the government’s position is that “it is not morally or politically correct to dissolve the parliamentary group of any party that secured its participation in Parliament through elections.”

Meanwhile, the government is planning a proposal for diaspora Greeks to vote in the next elections, which, however, would restrict the influence of their vote, Kathimerini understands.

The proposal, which critics are already dismissing as unconstitutional, foresees granting voting rights to Greeks living abroad who have Greek citizenship and who are registered on the electoral rolls. However, their vote would have a limited impact as, Kathimerini understands, it would go toward appointing three “diaspora” MPs.

In view of this, some 10 million Greeks voting in Greece would have their vote go toward the final result, and subsequently toward the appointment of 297 MPs in the 300-seat House, while no matter how many diaspora Greeks vote, they will only be able to appoint those three MPs.

Experts with insight into the discussions of an expert committee set up under the chairmanship of Interior Ministry General Secretary Costas Poulakis to examine alternative scenarios for granting diaspora Greeks the right to vote have criticized the proposal as a violation of the constitutionally enshrined right to voting equality.

For the proposal to be voted into law, an enhanced majority of 200 MPs is required.

Conservative New Democracy, which has long pushed for an initiative to grant the vote to the diaspora, is expected to lodge a counterproposal according to which all diaspora Greeks would have voting rights that would contribute to the final result, not just to a handful of MPs.

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