Bill to Lift Restrictions for Greeks Voting Abroad

greek flag
The flag of Greece. Credit: Peter Guilliatt/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An amendment of the 2019 law for Greeks voting from abroad was posted for public consultation on Monday. If it passes by Parliament, the amendment will lift all restrictions for Greek citizens voting in elections abroad, whether they have their permanent residence outside of Greece or happen to be abroad during election day.

A vote by a minimum 200 deputies is needed for the amendment to come into effect.

The public consultation will last one week, until 8 a.m., July 17.

Crucial restrictions lifted with proposed amendment

Formally named “Revoking restrictions for the registration in special voter registration lists of voters living abroad,” the bill aims to provide equal treatment to all Greek voters, in the context of fulfilling the principle of universal voting.

Although Greeks nationals were able to exercise their right to vote from abroad for the first time in the 2023 general elections in May and June, critics pointed out that the Greek diaspora was mostly absent, as only 22,816 out of millions of Greeks residing all over the world were entitled to vote – an enormous gap from the 300,000 citizens that Greek officials had previously estimated that they wanted to have a say in the next election.

The new amendment abolishes crucial restrictions which are believed to have prevented the majority of voters abroad from registering to vote in the elections, such as the required length of stay in Greece, which had to be at least two years in the last 35, and having filed taxes during the current year or the previous one from the year of elections.

The new Interior Minister, Niki Kerameus, said that this issue is not a right, central, or leftist issue, but a matter of respecting Greeks wherever they are.

“Diaspora Greeks are the soul and voice of Greece abroad. It is our duty to facilitate the exercise of their constitutionally established right to vote,” she added.

The 2019 law for Greeks voting from abroad

After lengthy negotiations, political parties in October 2019 reached a consensus on the draft of new legislation to allow Greek expatriates to vote from their country of residence.

The inter-party committee agreed that Greeks abroad can vote through the nation’s embassies and consulates throughout the world.

However, the government proposal for the establishment of the postal vote was rejected in its entirety. That meant that many Greeks abroad would have to travel enormous distances to cast their votes. In many cases, this would mean that it is more convenient or even cheaper to fly to the homeland than to the nearest embassy or consulate.

Greeks voting from abroad choose candidates among a list of so-called “State Deputies,” who tend to be personalities outside politics, and whose exact number depends on the total electoral strength of each party.

State Deputies are elected not in a specified constituency but throughout the country at large.

Parties may also include in their ballots personalities from abroad.

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