The interior ministry intends to launch a round of meetings with representatives of the political parties in parliament, in an effort to build the greatest possible consensus on the introduction of postal voting in Greek elections.
The meetings are scheduled to begin on December 11, when Interior Minister Niki Kerameus has returned from chairing the OECD Global Strategy Group in Paris, and the ministry aims to fully explain all parameters of the proposal, as well as address any objections or hear the counter-proposals presented by the opposition.
After consulting with the opposition parties, the proposal will then be posted online for a period of public consultation that is to be concluded within December, so that the resulting legislation can be tabled and voted on in Parliament in the first half of January.
Most of the opposition parties in Parliament have expressed reservations about the announcement and call for greater safeguards but are prepared to discuss the idea in principle. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is categorically opposed and has entirely dismissed the proposal, which it considers “unacceptable and dangerous”.
The government hopes for a broad consensus, though it needs only a simple majority in parliament to pass the proposed measures ahead of the upcoming European elections.
In a statement of the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Interior Minister Kerameus said it was “an initiative that ‘deepens’ democracy”:
“With the establishment, for the first time in the history of our country, of the postal vote, all the real/practical obstacles to participating in the elections are lifted. With a simple, easy and absolutely unimpeachable process, all Greeks who have the right to vote and live abroad, as well as all those who live in Greece and wish to do so, can now vote. Without travelling, without spending money. In the European elections of 2024, 50 years after the restoration of democracy [in Greece], there will be no obstacle – whether legal or actual – to the participation of everyone, in Greece and abroad, in the electoral process.”
She concluded by expressing hope that “we will send a horizontal message as a political system for facilitating participation in the European elections.”
Kerameus noted that postal voting was widely used worldwide, with Greece being one of the few European countries that had not yet used this method. If introduced, postal voting will be the exclusive voting method for Greeks abroad, as no polling stations will be set up outside Greece.
The bill will also address issues such as disabled access to polling stations and updating the electoral rolls to remove voters who have passed away while living abroad, with no notification of Greek municipal registry offices. This has resulted in the electoral rolls having 555,000 more voters over 75 than those recorded in the latest census, which increases the abstention rate.