Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Consensus on diaspora vote

COMMENT

TAGS: Diaspora, Elections

Consensus, finally. And more importantly, it has emerged on a sensitive issue in a country that has for decades taken pride (and understandably so) in its large diaspora community.

Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pursued an effective strategy. But the important development here is not his success, but rather that the country is moving in the direction of a broad majority that cuts across ideological divisions.

It is not often that one sees political parties as divergent as the right-wing Greek Solution and the Communist Party (KKE) agree on an important piece of legislation which, apart from the ruling conservatives, also has the backing of the center-left Movement for Change alliance (KINAL) and left-wing MeRA25. As Mitsotakis has rightly pointed out, the bill in question ought to be passed by 300 votes. It does not really matter though if the majority eventually comes down to just over 200 votes given SYRIZA’s disagreement on the issue. On a political level, the development appears to play into the hands of the government while harming the main opposition SYRIZA.

However, the real important thing is that we are finally taking a step forward, and that with a broad social consensus.

The law’s final shape and details concerning the procedure by which diaspora representatives will be elected will be discussed between party officials who will take part in the committee that will deal with the issue. Party representatives will submit proposals, consult with each other, process details and make concessions before hammering out a commonly accepted approach on which the law will be subsequently based.

Having lived most of my life outside Greece and having first-hand experience of the capabilities and the sensibilities of diaspora Greeks, I would have preferred to see voting rights expanded further. Perhaps this is something that could be discussed at a later stage. For the time being, parties have come to agree that voting in national elections must be restricted to people who are registered in electoral lists, who have a tax registration number and own assets in Greece. In any case, the law will increase the size and the quality of the electoral body.

Looking at the big picture, we appear to have a broad consensus and be on course to achieving something substantial: Some hundreds of thousands of Greeks who live abroad will now be able to vote. It is a welcome development and one that will prove useful on many levels.

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