In a marathon session that continued until late at night on Wednesday, Greek Parliament approved with a broad majority legislation that allows members of the diaspora to exercise their voting rights from their place of residence.
Of a total of 296 lawmakers present, 288 approved the Interior Ministry bill in principle, seven voted against and one voted “present.”
MeRA25, the party of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, is the only one that vote against it and only vote through select articles, in line with previous statements during the debate. Two lawmakers from main opposition SYRIZA were absent. The party approved all articles except number 4, which concerns the procedure for diaspora Greeks to join the electoral register.
To achieve the broadest possible consensus, the government accepted certain limitations requested by opposition parties following extensive discussions in the previous months. Therefore, to qualify to vote in national elections, Greeks living abroad will need to have Greek tax identification numbers and have filed a tax declaration in the current of previous tax year. The law also requires them to cover distances to select points where polling stations will be set up and can only vote if there are 40 voters eligible to cast their ballots in their districts.
They must have also lived in Greece for two years over a 35 year period. Speaking earlier before MPs, Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the bill as “historic.”
“Today’s session could be described as truly historic, because it responds to a long-standing demand and a present need, opening the way for a better tomorrow for all Greeks,” he said.“Forty-four years and eight months had to pass in order to breath life into Article 51 of the Constitution. I am proud this is happening on the initiative of New Democracy and, as it appears, through a broad inter-party consensus.”