Anyone who has read the About Us section in HellasFrappe, or who has spoken with me directly on the social networks or on a political level knows very well that I have been lobbying for this for well over a decade. (And I have done so with ZERO funds, ZERO support and ZERO non-profits backing me up.) So now you can understand my excitement, but you will also comprehend why I am now questioning this particular initiative and want all of you to also be weary of it as well.
This particular group of expats rightfully says that their exclusion from the electoral process is a form of discrimination. However, after examining their site, and all the material that they have published, I am skeptical about this initiative because, as I discovered, they are only lobbying for the new waive of expats and especially for those who only live within the EU. Also, another thing that amazed me was that there is no mention in their material of Costas Karamanlis' initiative several years ago to give expats this right. Instead they endorse recent remarks from SYRIZA MEP Manolis Gletzos and allow it to be understood that this is a new initiative that the radical left party has devised.
I salute all initiatives that aim to reunite expats with the motherland, after all this blog's motto is "Hellenes united, never again divided", but I warn Frappers not to get blinded by initiatives that omit to give credit where credit is due. Or to endorse an idea that simply repackages something, omits historic facts and presents it as new (for political purposes).
Here are the facts: During his term in government the former leader of the conservative New Democracy party Costas Karamanlis took action on this matter and his government tabled two historic bills in the Greek Parliament which would have given Greek expats the right to vote from abroad. The bills came after Karamanlis went on an official trip to Australia. While there the Greek community, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands, asked him to take action on this right and as soon as he returned he took action right away.
Unfortunately both times, the PASOK party (under George Papandreou), as well as other Leftist parties, blocked the bills.
The bills would have bypassed the Greek constitution -which does not permit expats to vote outside Greece- and allow expats to vote from their country of residence, but it needed 180 votes in order to be ratified. Much to Karamanlis' dismay, and to the disappointment of millions of expats abroad, the bills only had the support of the conservative New Democracy party because all the other parties in the Greek parliament were against it... this includes SYRIZA.
If those bills had passed, then expats would have been permitted to vote at their local embassies in their countries of residence through the process of electronic voting. The same process that is used by other western nations during any election process.
When the first bill was introduced, it was totally rejected by all the Left forces in Greece, and through the help (of what some say) of the Council of Hellenes Abroad or (SAE). So Karamanlis' team began redrafting the law and reintroduced a few months later only to be met with complete rejection again. The second bill would have also permitted expats to have legal representation in the Greek parliament (slightly different than the first) by electing their own MPs, but again it was slammed by all the left forces in Greece.
But don't take my word for it, I encourage you to do your own homework and look up the information for yourselves.
Another thing which bothered me while reading through their material has to do with who should be eligible to vote and who shouldn't. The material that they have produced to endorse this initiative only refers to fresh expats who recently immigrated to other EU nations. I truly hope that I misunderstood this (major) detail. If not then I am extremely insulted as a Greek-Canadian citizen. I want to to remind them that Greeks in Germany, Sweden and Spain, etc. (or in other EU nations) are not more Greek than Greeks in Australia, Canada or the US, etc.. They are just as Greek if not more!
Expats have every right to co-decide on the future of Greece, but not only one group of expats... ALL EXPATS.
I cannot support an initiative that excludes a huge number of expats, and find it rather suspicious that they only refer to one group. But again, I truly hope that I misunderstood this point.
An expat is anyone who was born in Greece, is of Greek decent and a Greek national. This means that Greeks in New York, Sydney, Montreal, Chicago, Tokyo, Johannesburg, etc. should also be allowed to vote. The right of expats to vote cannot be limited to people who simply live in the European Union and who recently immigrated abroad, because expats in other nations (especially in the Americas and Australia) have the same rights and have kept a duo-nationality for decades!
Besides, they are the best ambassadors of Greek culture that the Motherland can offer. They carry the torch of Greece in their countries of residence by educating their children the Greek language and teach them our vast history which is then passed on from generation to generation. Some also pay hefty taxes on properties in Greece which they maintain for sentimental purposes. They also support Greek exports and therefore contribute significantly to the Greek economy and finally many expats also send their sons to serve in the Greek military.
All expats... not just those in Sweden, Germany and other European nations... but all expats. This was obviously overlooked by the designers of this initiative and this explains why they only highlight Glezos' statements on this controversial issue and totally omit the historic fact that Karamanlis actually took action on this several years ago.
I propose that all expats get in tune with the facts. The initiative that is making strong waves on the web is nothing new... It is a democratic right that veteran expats such as myself have been vying for for years.
I salute this initiative, but will only support it if it edits its material and includes these facts and if it lobbies for all Greeks, not just for one set of Greeks. I advise all HF readers to do the same.
I vowed to lobby for this right over a decade ago so that my aging parents, who were forced to leave Greece more than four decades ago, would one day have the right to vote for their beloved Greece. Till this day many aging Greeks abroad hear the word Greece and it still brings tears to their eyes. It is this very love and passion for the motherland that has been passed on to their children, and their children are already beginning to pass it on to the next generation. Their "καημο" or bitterness of being forgotten by the Motherland is strong, but their hearts are still forgiving and full of "φιλοτιμο". If the Motherland acknowledges them in this way... then all the pain and bitterness will be forgotten. I live for the day when our leaders finally realize how important this is for the future of Hellenism abroad and for the future of Hellas as a whole. In the meantime, I pledge to continue with this fight until I am vindicated; for my parents and for each and every one of us.
Editor of HellasFrappe
The video below is from their campaign