Greece is a small country which, however, has the good fortune to have a large diaspora. There are Greeks everywhere and, thankfully, in powerful countries, from the United States to the biggest country in the European Union.
A nation that has throughout its history faced all manner of challenges – diplomatic, military and, of course, economic – has every reason not just to maintain but also to strengthen its bond with its overseas community. It is for this reason that I believe Greeks abroad should vote in general elections back home.
As someone who has spent almost his entire life abroad, mainly in the US but also in other countries, I fail to comprehend why such a decision has never been made. All it takes is political will; the practical details and method can be decided later between the countries involved.
Greece’s ties with its diaspora are not just cultural. They should also be political (not in terms of party politics) and, of course, economic. This latter area is somewhat more delicate and needs to be discussed at some length. But in terms of politics, the critics are right to warn of the dangers of partisan engagement among overseas Greeks, something that would not benefit the country. They are also right to point out the problem of people voting from the safety of another country. They help to choose who runs a country in which they do not themselves live and they do not have to suffer the consequences of their decision if the party they vote for wins.
Greeks around the world support their homeland but I also believe that Greece has much to gain from the presence in Parliament of a small number of diaspora Greeks who could improve governance by elevating the common good above partisan interests, which is something Greece sorely needs and particularly now. There could, for example, be a small number of seats reserved for overseas Greeks while ensuring that they do not affect policymaking on a local level.
I believe that lawmakers from the Greek diaspora would act as a unifying force, putting the nation first, acting responsibly and with more pragmatism than cynicism.
Ultimately they would also help Parliament become more effective. The majority of diaspora Greeks would put their concern for Greece above that for any political party, something which is not the case for many politicians here, unfortunately.
In a way, having the diaspora take part in elections is also fairer in terms of representation. Beyond whatever reasonable objections and problems that may arise, the involvement of Greeks abroad in the function of the country would be of benefit to Greece.