Diaspora Voting Rights Can Restart Relationship with Greece.

Nicholas Economides

By Nicholas Economides

How does Greece see the diaspora Greeks? On the one hand, Greece is proud of her distinguished scientists, academics, professors, doctors, leaders in art etc who excel abroad. On the other hand, Greece sees them as Greeks who “escaped” from the country – “deserted” it, some would say – and do not suffer the ravages of life in Greece. Additionally, the one million or so diaspora Greeks born in Greece are not homogeneous, with significant differences in the years they have lived abroad. And, especially in the United States and Australia, there are over a million born abroad of Greek extraction.

How does Greece see the Greeks abroad? First, as investors. Greece makes significant efforts to attract investment from Greeks abroad, with limited results. Second, as tourists. Greek tourist ads are much more common in diaspora media than in other media abroad. Third, as “lobbyists,” because paradoxically Greek newspapers believe that Greeks in the United States can, almost magically, bend American foreign policy closer to Greek interests.

For many, it is obvious that these “foreigners” should have equal rights with the locals in Greece and vote in national elections from where they live. For others, this notion is weird, even unfair. However, the Greek Constitution gives the right to vote to all who have been born in Greece, and generally to the holders of Greek passports or IDs – if they make the trip to Greece. The issue of the present law is whether the Greek Parliament will facilitate the diaspora Greeks to vote where they live, outside Greece. With bravery and deep trust in democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy is proposing this change. However, small-minded MPs and parties want to deny even this small help toward Greeks abroad.

Read the full eKathimerini article.

Nicholas Economides is a Professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business.