By Ilias Karagiannis.
The platform in which expatriates will be able to register and vote from their place of residence is in the “final stages” of its full operation, revealed in an exclusive interview with The Greek Herald the Minister of Interior of Greece, Makis Voridis.
Only details remain, according to the Minister, who emphasises that the “process will be simple, transparent and inviolable.”
Although several expatriate organisations in Australia have also called for improvements to the expatriate voting bill, the Home Secretary says: “At the moment there are no political correlations to improve the existing arrangement.”
Mr Voridis stated that the campaign to inform the expatriates about the details of the electoral process will begin soon, while he categorically rejects the possibility of early elections, clarifying that: “The Government will exhaust its constitutional mandate.”
Mr Voridis, who in the recent reshuffle of the Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis took over the sensitive Ministry of Interior, estimates that: “Greece has been an example of managing the health crisis for many other countries that have stronger health systems.”
The Minister also talked about the 200th anniversary of the Revolution and sent a message to the Greek community of Australia, which as he says: “is famous for its special love for its motherland and to whom Greece is grateful.”
Our interview with the Minister of Interior began with the timeless request of the Greek community, about the bill for the vote of Greeks abroad.
“The vote of the expatriates was a pre-election commitment of the New Democracy Party, it was approved by the Greek parliament with the vote of 288 MPs and in the next elections it will be implemented,” Mr Voridis stated.
“The platform is already in the phase of test operation and it remains to complete its interface with the electronic services through which the necessary data will be extracted for the identification of the registered ones, therefore in the next period of time it will be fully operational.
“Greeks who are registered on the electoral roll, have a permanent residence abroad and can prove that in the last 35 years they have resided in Greece for two consecutive years have the right to vote. The procedure is simple, transparent and inviolable and comes to facilitate Greeks who wish to vote from their place of residence.”
Recently, publications of the Greek press make different, divergent estimates for the number of expatriates who are expected to register on this platform. From 200,000 to 800,000, as written in a recent article in the newspaper “Ta Nea.” The Ministry of Interior, through the Minister, does not wish to make any assessment at this time.
“I do not want to get into this process. I have read the relevant estimates that you mention, which do not come from the Ministry of Interior, however any prediction at the moment is quite risky given the fact that no one knows how many Greeks abroad will choose to take advantage of this opportunity and finally exercise their right to vote remotely.
“Once the platform is fully operational, we will be able to talk about a clearer picture with tangible evidence in our hands,” said Mr Voridis, who is aware that expatriate organizations, including in Australia, are calling for change.
Recently, the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a teleconference with the expatriate businessman, Andrew Liveris, stated that the Greek-Australians – due to the time difference – will be the first to vote in the next elections.
“There is no possibility of early elections”:
“Now, regarding the issue of early elections that you are raising, this has already been answered by the Prime Minister himself who has clarified that the Government will exhaust its constitutional mandate,” Mr Voridis said.
“The operation of the platform, moreover, was launched from the moment the bill for the vote of Greeks abroad was passed and it was time for its implementation. Therefore, I do not see the slightest connection to the fact that we are activating the platform with the unfounded scenarios of early elections circulating inside and outside the country,” he stressed.
Greece continues to suffer from the pandemic, although as the numbers show, it manages the crisis better than other European countries.
“Our Government, from the first moment that the pandemic broke out in our country, was placed in a state of maximum readiness, activating all the necessary means to ensure Public Health and to support the economy. Greece has been an example of crisis management for many other countries that have stronger health systems and proof of this is that none of our fellow citizens was deprived of appropriate care when needed. Of course we do not triumph, but we continue to implement the necessary policies in order to mitigate, as far as possible, the effects of a global pandemic”, the Interior Minister stated.
The plan for the economy and gratitude to the Greeks abroad:
Greeks abroad are concerned whether Greece will be able to stand on its own two feet after almost a decade of economic recession.
“It is true that the economy, not only of our country but of the whole planet has suffered significant consequences due to the pandemic, however I would like to point out that the good management that the Government has shown in handling the country’s finances all this time, supporting all those affected industries, has justified us in full and enables us to continue to provide the necessary support for as long as required,” Mr Voridis said.
“I would like to point out, however, that Greece is not alone in all this. It is a member of a large European family and a coordinated plan is already underway so that, when this adventure is over, we can all work together to reorganize the European and consequently the Greek economy.
“Greeks abroad have never stopped transmitting Greek culture. They maintain our customs and traditions unchanged through the expatriate communities and I am convinced that despite the obstacles created by the pandemic, they will proudly participate, from all over the world, together with all Greeks, in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution”, stated Mr Voridis, and in conclusion he stressed that:
“The Greeks abroad are a second Greece, intertwined with elements such as diligence, ingenuity, professional consistency, excellence, philanthropy, patriotism. It is a pillar of preservation and continuity of our history and tradition, a lever for strengthening relations with the homeland and the cradle of new prospects for the reconstruction of the Greek economy.
“Undoubtedly, the adventure in which the whole of humanity and Hellenism as a whole are going through, tests our endurance and our faith. We have all been obliged to deprive our loved ones and especially the Greeks of Australia, who are famous for their special love for their motherland and to whom we are grateful for the prestige they have given to Greece with the virtuous and moral life they live and did not have the opportunity to visit it.
“I hope that this suffering will end soon and that we will meet again in our homeland.”