Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why a Greek citizen is not eligible to vote in Greece?

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The list of the outrageous and peculiar political decisions that European leaders are taking is growing, as the European elections are approaching.

The Greek PM, Mr. Samaras and his government have revoked the voting rights of Greek citizens living abroad and the Greek citizens (in my opinion), which are second generation immigrants that were born in Greece, by legal migrant parents.

(Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy-led government said it will not allow Greeks living abroad, nor second-generation immigrants living legally in Greece, to vote or stand as candidates, revoking a 2010 law without debate The National Herald).

It seems to me that the Greek government is afraid that the more voices and opinions will be heard during the European and local elections, the more the result will be out of their predictions.

The 2010 law that would allow these individuals to vote has been revoked without a debate. As a Greek of the diaspora, I feel that such decision is outrageous and shows the true colors of Mr. Samaras' government.

I understand that just like the British MP, Mr. David Cameron, that has to deal with the challenging popularity of the euro-skeptic party UKIP, Mr. Samaras has to deal with the rise of Golden Dawn. Both Prime Ministers are so forced to implement right-wing laws, in order to satisfy the rising nationalist sentiments among their country's populations and keep their party's votes.

But revoking the right of citizens to vote is down right undemocratic. I will not be able to vote for a Greek MEP to represent me in the European Parliament for the next 5 years, because my country won't allow me to.

And by European law I won't be able to vote for an Irish or any other European candidate that I chose. Because there is no legislation to allow such thing, or it is as complicated as one could imagine to do so for and Irish MEP. So my voting rights as a European citizen are limited.

The Greek government is obviously afraid of the voting power of the Greek diaspora, that are informed about the economic crisis that troubles the country from another point of view. They follow the developments in Greece through European media, while living in various other political systems and so their judgement is not blurred by the Greek media.

The Greek citizens that still live in Greece, have been subjected to years of misinformation, propaganda and lies from the Greek political elite, in order to maintain or change the current balance of power in the country.

So if the Greek state gave power to its diaspora, the outcome of the elections would potentially be unpredictable for them and obviously that is something they can not risk.

The other infuriating issue is that the children of Greece's legal immigrants, won't yet again be able to vote in the Greek elections and practice their democratic rights. Being born in Greece by non-nationals that legally migrated in the country, should logically make them Greek citizens, eligible to vote. Not in Greece.

And before I continue I would like to make a distinction between the meaning of a Greek national and Greek citizen. Many Greeks and if fact many Europeans are confused about these two and I do not blame them.

Their governments have never bothered to explained the difference to them, so they can always have a card to play their divide and rule game. Poor against rich, public against private sector, native against immigrant, in order to divide public opinion and manipulate it.

A Greek national is somebody that is "of Greek blood", an ethnic Greek whose one or two of his parents is of Greek origin. A Greek citizen on the other hand, is somebody who stayed in Greece for a significant amount of time or was born in it, paid taxes, contributed to the community and was of course a legal immigrant into the country.

As long as these individuals are legally residing in the state for a period of time that the Greek law defines, that makes them Greek citizens and they are entitled to their voting and other full rights, that any Greek citizen must have. I do not understand why certain people think that by allowing a foreigner that has been living in Greece for a decade or so to vote, makes them less Greek and it erodes their "Greekness."

Of course that is an issue that does not exist just in Greece but in many European countries and it must be explained to the people. People who live legally in a country for so long, should be entitled to citizenship and equal rights like every Greek citizen or national.

Both the Greek state and the EU in general must create a pan-European common and clear immigration policy, that will protect the rights of both EU nationals and EU citizens. It will allow only the number of immigrants and with the qualifications we need in Europe, but it will grant them with rights and protect them as citizens, workers and of course human beings.

So far we had irresponsible immigration policies that served nobody but the capitalist elites and their need for a cheap working force with no rights. Illegal immigrants, or seasonal migrants in Europe play this role and these policies should be tightened or revisited. Combined with an economic crisis, they are becoming a dangerous mix that pushes Europeans to the arms of the far-right and euro-skeptic parties. 

What is happening right now in Greece is disgraceful. The Greek government is fearing the change in the well predictable Greek public opinion, that new voters would bring.  If the new Greek citizens have a different opinion or political affiliations than the ordinary Greek national, they can have an impact in the elections.

I personally welcome new voices in the Greek political life to be heard, as Greece needs it desperately. The Greeks, as most other Europeans are voting along family traditions, political ideologies, or personal interests and acquaintances to help them achieve personal and petty financial or material ambitions.

New voters means new ideas and voices that could break this vicious circle and alter the political scene of a country, for the better. If of course these new votes are not linked to naturalization promises, in order to vote for a certain political party.

Rumors have emerged in the past in Greece, of bribed Greek naturalization processes in exchange for loyalty to a certain political party that represented the establishment. These practices alter the result of the election and of course undermine the democratic process, that exists in Greece only by name as it seems. 

Either Mr. Samaras and his government, are fearing the rise of Golden Dawn in the upcoming elections or the influence of new voters, the outcome of their decisions are down right unacceptable and wrong. No government or politician that respects the very word "democracy" and the people who they are supposed to serve, should proceed with the implementation of such laws.

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