Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPE)
In spite of the positive tone in the statements of the party leaders – following their meetings with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – to facilitate the voting of the Greek citizens living abroad in the countries they reside, the main differences remain, making it unlikely to secure the necessary parliamentary majority to change the law. According to the Greek Constitution, 200 votes are needed (out of 300) to pass this particular electoral law. But the Prime Minister appeared optimistic that the law could pass.
Mitsotakis met with leaders of parties represented in Parliament to discuss the issue before tabling legislation for it. His successive meetings included main opposition SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras, KINAL’s Fofi Gennimata, Communist Party’s Dimitris Koutsoubas, Greek Solution’s Kyriakos Velopoulos and MeRA25’s Yanis Varoufakis.
The stance of political party leaders meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the issue of voting rights for Greeks abroad “was productive,” the PM’s office said in a statement on Friday, and shows “there is serious grounds” for a solution acceptable to all parties.
“For the government, the basic prerequisite for finding common ground” among parties, the statement said, “was the acceptance of the constitutional principle that all votes are equal, which means that that the votes of Greeks living abroad are included in the total voting count, without separating [Greeks] into first- and second-class citizens.”
The issues discussed, the PM’s office explained, were “the process of exercising this right” to vote, and “how the representatives of voters living abroad are elected.” Differences of opinion were expressed, “but it appears there is serious grounds for a substantial alignment towards a jointly acceptable solution,” the office at Maximos Mansion said.
It added that the Interior Ministry will talk with party representatives so that a draft bill to be tabled in Parliament “will be voted on with the widest possible majority.”
“It must be made easier for Greeks living abroad to exercise a fundamental constitutional right, as happens in all European countries. This opportunity must not be missed,” the statement concluded.
“We want to include the Greeks of the diaspora creatively in the political affairs of the country; we want their vote and the election of their representatives in the Greek Parliament. But we do not wish to divide the Greeks living abroad, depending on which party they support,” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said on Friday in Parliament.
The main opposition leader said he urged the prime minister to “change course” in order to find a common ground, to reach consensus and not to divide the Greeks of the Diaspora. Tsipras stressed that “the big institutional changes require broad consensus and, above all, a synthesis between the parties that are central to the governance of the country.” Any other option, he added, would be a choice of “political and institutional deviation, from which no side will win.”
SYRIZA’s leader tabled his party’s proposal for expatriate voting and said he was open to “discuss any other proposal that might facilitate voting by Greek voters abroad”, while setting a “single” requirement: “Do not attempt to engage expatriates in games of petty party politics, with the secret and underhand aim of altering political balances in the interior of the country.”
Following their meeting, Tsipras called on Mitsotakis “to finally demand that sanctions be imposed on Turkey, which was a decision that we succeeded in extracting from the previous European Summit, together with [Cyprus] President [Nicos] Anastasiades.”
“We want the Greeks living abroad to finally be able to vote and for their vote to count in the overall result. To be able to elect representatives,” Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata said in a statement after the conclusion of her meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday. The prime minister is currently having a series of meetings with opposition party leaders about granting Greek voters living outside the country the right to cast their vote from abroad.
Gennimata also noted that there must not be another lost opportunity and urged all political parties to assume their responsibilities in this matter.
Concluding, Gennimata said that she also spoke with Mitsotakis about escalating Turkish aggressiveness and the need for “national cohesion and a decisive stance at home,” as well as the adoption of specific measures and decisions – right now, she emphasised – on the part of Greece’s EU partners.
In this context she said that the Greek government must ask the European Council to adopt sanctions against Turkey and change the EU-Turkey Statement on the refugee and migration crisis.
Greek citizens who work, live and study abroad “must definitely be guaranteed the right to vote,” Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoubas said on Friday, after meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The PM met with all parliamentary party leaders on Friday to discuss the issue of voting rights for Greeks abroad.
Koutsoubas said that voting should be extended to Greek citizens abroad who retained property or family in Greece, paid taxes here, “and have a reason to vote here and express their position on elected political leadership, on laws that harm them and on income issues.”
Voting should not be extended to people of Greek descent who have been absent from Greece for too long, Koutsoubas said. “We believe the time Greeks have lived away from Greece should make sense, they can’t have left 100 years ago and have ‘blood rights’ four generations down,” he pointed out. He also said he opposed voting in absentia (e.g. by a mail-in ballot), but that Greek embassies and consulates abroad should help by providing facilities for voting.
He added that the Communist Party’s stance would depend on the manner the related bill is introduced to the Greek Parliament and on how it regulates the issues raised during the meeting with the premier.
Greek Solution party leader Kyriakos Velopoulos expressed his party’s full agreement on the issue of voting rights for Greeks abroad, in a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
In statements after the meeting, Velopoulos said that “as a child of migrants, I believe it is unacceptable that expatriate Greeks cannot vote, as the longing and love they feel for their country is the ultimate proof for the need to legislate their right to vote,” he said.
“So we agree on that in principle,” Velopoulos said, “and we will find common ground in the details, too,” he added, “because the rule of logic unites us.”
Mitsotakis on Friday met successively with political party leaders to discuss the issue of voting rights for Greek citizens living abroad.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday evening met with MeRA25 party leader Yanis Varoufakis, the fifth largest opposition party in parliament, to discuss the rights of Greek voters living abroad.
This was the final of a series of meeting between the PM and opposition party leaders on the issue.
Varoufakis said that during recent discussions on the government’s policy programme in Parliament he was “the only political leader who spoke explicitly in favor of the vote of Greek expatriates and in particular in their activation via the creation of expatriate Greek constituencies.”
He added that “Greeks abroad should have the choice to vote at consulates,” and also stressed that “MeRA25 is against mailed-in votes because this does not ensure vote confidentiality.”
“There are two different issues here,” Varoufakis continued, “one concerns expatriates and the other Greek travelers, university students, young people who left recently because of the financial crisis.”
For expatriates who had emigrated even earlier, Varoufakis proposed that overseas constituencies be created, with expatriate representatives elected by the expatriates themselves but in proportion to the Greek citizens who have transferred their electoral rights abroad.
On Greeks who have left Greece in more recent times, Varoufakis proposed an eight-year time limit to vote in the electoral region where they are registered.
In a nutshell, Varoufakis stressed that Greeks abroad should have the right to both elect and also be elected.