Government puts off granting right to vote to Greeks overseas

Government puts off granting right to vote to Greeks overseas

The government on Friday effectively rejected a proposal by conservative New Democracy to amend voting laws so that Greeks living overseas can participate in general elections. 

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis submitted an amendment to Parliament calling for a committee to be formed that is to examine the issue within the next six months. 

Speaking on behalf of ND, which has twice submitted proposals for legislation to allow diaspora Greeks to vote in national elections, conservative lawmaker Makis Voridis accused the government of procrastination and said it should make a decision and settle the issue. 

“Greeks abroad, both those who left a while ago and those who left the country more recently, are anticipating [the measure],” he said.

“We do not accept piecemeal reforms. Have the courage to make it happen. It’s the mature thing to do and you will find a spectrum of consensus,” Voridis added, addressing representatives of ruling SYRIZA during a discussion in Parliament about new measures relating to local authority governance.

Responding to Voridis’s criticism, Skourletis said the government opted to set up a committee to look into the matter of extending the right to vote in national elections to overseas Greeks due to “technical and constitutional problems and a series of issues to ensure the procedure cannot be tampered with.”

Friday’s debate in the House was calmer than the vehement exchanges seen during Thursday’s debate on post-bailout austerity in Greece, called for by ND. 

In comments to the 24/7 radio station, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said it is “good to have such discussions. They highlight the political arguments and differences between the parties.”

He accused ND of “hypocrisy” for its stance over plans for further pension cuts in January 2019. ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis and vice president Costis Hatzidakis demanded explanations after European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said there could be some flexibility on austerity measures due to come into effect after Greece’s third bailout ends in August.

Hatzidakis asked Moscovici to be clear on whether planned cuts will be revoked so ND can update its economic program.

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