Greeks abroad to vote

Up to 400,000 Greeks living abroad are expected to benefit from an imminent change to the law that will allow them to vote in Greece’s general elections from their country of residence, which would end the practice of the two big political parties flying over supporters to cast their ballot. According to information obtained by Kathimerini, the draft law which will make this possible is almost ready and is likely to be submitted to Parliament within a matter of days. The bill proposes that only those with Greek nationality whose details have also been recorded in municipal lists in Greece will have the right to vote. Those wanting to vote will also have to register with the Greek embassies or consulates in their place of residence. They will only be able to vote for the party of their choice, not specific candidates. Their votes will be counted at the embassies or consulates by an electoral committee and the results will be announced at the same time as those from Greece. The new law will also make every party include three Greeks living abroad on their State List, which is made up of 12 candidates that do not stand in any specific constituency but are elected to Parliament based on the proportion of the vote received by their party. According to estimates by the Interior Ministry as well as New Democracy and PASOK, between 300,000 and 400,000 Greeks living abroad will sign up for the right to vote in the general election. Greeks living in the USA, Canada, Australia and Germany are expected to express the greatest interest. The bill is expected to pass through Parliament easily, as it also has the support of PASOK. It is likely to allow Greeks abroad to take part in the elections from 2011 onward. Until now, ND and PASOK have invested in flying Greeks over for the election in a practice that was considered unfair to those unable to cast their vote and to the other parties not able to spend on flights.