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Gov't readies bill on expatriates' vote

An initiative to give eligible Greeks abroad the right to vote in general elections should not be based on whether such a move is beneficial to whatever political parties, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said on Monday in an interview to the ANA’s Internet TV platform.

In echoing the government’s position, the deputy FM asked why main opposition PASOK does not want Greek expatriates to vote after the 2011 elections and pointed out that it should be a priority to avoid dividing the Greeks abroad based on their political party affiliation.

Referring to the Inner Cabinet’s approval last Tuesday of a draft law setting up the framework for the landmark development, Kassimis stressed that expatriates’ voting rights became a constitutional right when PASOK held a majority in Parliament.

“The constitution was voted in 2002 but the specific clause was never activated. It was Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis who underlined that we have an obligation to give overseas Greeks the right to vote in (Greek) national elections,” Kassimis stated.

He also stressed that he was impressed with the negative stance of the main opposition on the issue, pointing out that 200 votes out of the 300 MPs in Parliament are necessary to pass the legislation.

The draft law promoted by the government provides that each party should include three Greek expatriate candidates in its state ballot (a list of candidates that do not require individual votes by voters). Whether the names of the Greek expatriate candidates are on the top of the list or lower will be indicative of their chance to be elected. The votes of expatriates will be added to the overall electoral result.

Kassimis stated that the fact that PASOK is against tallying Greek expatriate votes in the overall election results constitutes an insult.

On PASOK’s stance in favor of establishing Greek expatriate seats in Parliament, Kassimis said the government will examine this option at a later phase and after reaching a conclusion on the size of the expatriate electorate.

“This will be made possible after having them vote in the first general elections after 2011,” Kassimis said. “Based on the ballots cast, a discussion can begin with the political parties on the expatriate seats in Parliament and the adoption of a relevant constitutional amendment. This is why the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) accepts, at this phase, the draft law approved, which allows expatriates to take part in Greek general elections,” he underlined.

Asked about the stance of the Greek expatriates, vis-à-vis their participation in Greek national elections, Kassimis said opinions vary, with some in favor of having a say in Greece, while others maintaining that they have no contact with everyday reality in Greece.

Source: ANA-MPA

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