THE BLOG
01/23/2015 11:52 am ET Updated Mar 24, 2015

Sunday's Election: For Greeks Only!

One of the longest unfulfilled dreams of Greek immigrants who left the country beginning in the early 20th century seeking a better life elsewhere in the world (to the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, Africa and South America) was, and remains, to secure their right to a postal vote. This would result in Greek citizens abroad voting in national and municipal elections by casting their ballot at Greek consulates and embassies in their country of residence as is already the case with many other nations of the Western world.

Since the overthrow of the military dictatorship in 1974, successive Greek governments have promised legislation bestowing the right of postal voting upon Greek expatriates who hold a Greek passport. Currently, however, only Greeks living in Europe have been granted the right to vote for Greece's European Members of Parliament at their local embassies and consulates.

In the case of national elections, though, where the future of the country is in question, the issue becomes much more complicated. For, if, as believed, there are four million expatriate Greek citizens, their votes could amount to some 40% of the total tally, making it highly unfair and risky for this mass to potentially decide the electoral outcome as on January 25 a total of 9,808,760 people will be called up to vote. Given that most sporadically visit their homeland, it would be a stretch to let them decide its fate, especially in precarious plebiscites such as the one upcoming on January 25th.

In addition, second and third generation Greeks living abroad who hold Greek citizenship are even further removed from the political scene unfolding back home as they rarely follow developments there.

Of course, many Greeks abroad feel alienated every time their compatriots head to the polls. Since they have contributed significantly to the development of the county, they feel they have every right to partake in its destiny. It should be remembered that those who departed gave those remaining the opportunity to grow while also sending financial aid for years to relatives that stayed put, especially after World War II when immigration levels were at their peak.

For those more closely attached to Greece, such as those who return frequently or who own property there, they would like to be able to influence government policy, in the area of taxation, for example, besides possessing a deep-seated emotional need to vote.

The only realistic solution to the dilemma would be for the Greeks who are permanent to elect a representative, or representatives, in their respective continent or region who would champion their interests in the Greek Parliament. To this effect, these different districts could be set as winner-take-all ridings that would not affect the overall outcome of the election.