Greeks abroad vote hits hurdle

Hopes that a bill will be passed soon giving up to 400,000 Greeks living abroad the right to vote in general elections in Greece were dealt a serious blow yesterday when opposition parties declared their opposition to the content of the draft law. The Inner Cabinet met yesterday to rubber-stamp the bill, which will now be tabled in Parliament, but it needs 200 of the 300 MPs in the House to vote in favor of the draft law if it is to become legislation. Therefore, it will not pass without the support of PASOK, which is unhappy that its calls were not heeded for a postal ballot to be allowed. The Socialists also wanted constituencies to be created for Greeks abroad so that they can directly elect MPs to Parliament. Andreas Loverdos, a PASOK deputy and the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, indicated that the Socialists would vote against the bill. Synaspismos Left Coalition adopted a similar position. The Communist Party has also expressed its opposition to the bill, saying that it would have a disproportionate effect on the election result. Right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally said that it is largely in favor of the bill. If passed, the law would allow Greeks abroad, including those working for foreign companies, to vote in any general election after January 1, 2011. Those wanting to vote would have to register with the Greek embassies or consulates in their place of residence. They will be able to vote only 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 announced at the same time as those in Greece. Every party would have to 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.

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