‘We will vote, because we care about Greece’: expats from England to South Korea speak with iefimerida

By | May 16, 2023

On Saturday at 7:00 a.m. local time in each country, the polls open in 35 countries for Greek expatriates, who in the 2023 national elections will obtain the right to vote from their place of residence for the first time.

Despite their complaints about the process, which excluded -as they point out- most of the Hellenistic diaspora, they consider that a beginning was given so that they too had a voice in the development of the country that saw them born.

“The current opposition decided that those of us who support Greece must be excluded.”

“I applied to vote but was rejected, apparently because I have been out of Greece for more than 35 years and I do not meet the requirements,” Seta Theodoridis, president of the Greek community in Paris, tells iefimerida, and continues: “The current opposition has decided that we , that for so many years we have been sending money to Greece, building houses in Greece and supporting its economy, paying taxes for so many years without using Health, Education and infrastructure, we must be excluded. Especially European Greeks, we are very close to our homeland and we live long periods in Greece, but when it comes to voting, we are punished, we feel like second-class citizens. However, the fact that this decision, even incomplete, has been taken by the Greek state is important and we see it positively.”

Where do I vote in the 2023 elections? What applies to non-citizens and Greeks abroad?

Elections: these are the 99 voting centers for Greeks abroad: they will be installed in 35 countries [λίστα]

Election committee in South Korea, graduate student Maria Patrelli

The Election Commission at the polling station in Seoul (South Korea) will be postgraduate student Maria Patrelli, who has lived in the distant city for 10 months. “It may be far away, but I don’t forget about Greece, because it is my country, the country where my family lives and the country I will probably return to one day,” says the young woman from Thessaloniki, noting that she was quick to apply when platform was opened. “I immediately applied when given this opportunity, and then the embassy contacted me and asked me to be a member of the electoral committee. I was determined to vote and from the beginning I was in contact with the embassy about the procedures. The fact that we are leaving Greece does not mean that we are leaving everything”, continues Ms. Patrelli, who is pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations.

“We wanted a vote by mail”

Alekos Karamanolas is an educator in Stuttgart, Germany, preparing to vote at the consulate in Baden-Württemberg. As an active member of the community, he participates in the Board of Directors. of the Federation of Greek Communities and does not understand, as he says, why expatriates were not given the right to vote by mail.
“It is a start that in the national elections they gave us the right to vote from abroad, but in reality half the job was done. Why shouldn’t I be able to send my vote to Katerini, the city where I come from? Voting by mail should have been decided, ”she points out. The framework for expatriates has gaps and injustices, as Mr Karamanolas points out, the most basic being the exclusion from voting of first generation immigrants who have not lived in Greece for two years in the last 35 years, but also some others that they were unable to gather the necessary documents to approve their application.
“The authorities should have been careful not to exclude migrants who want to go to the polls, but I want to hope that there will be improvements in the future,” he says.

“I live in London, I would like to go back to Greece”

Doctor Kiki Sonidou prepares to exercise her right to vote from London. She has lived in the British capital for 15 years, but with her eyes and mind always on Greece.
“Of course I want to vote, because what is happening in Greece worries me. I have a house, a family, a property there and I file a tax return. Also, I would like to return to my home country one day, although I have many Doubts about things that need to change. Excellence and meritocracy still have a way to go. Some people say “why should you vote when you live abroad and you’re comfortable?”, but that’s not the case.
At least I have a direct relationship with Greece, I am not isolated. However, I will not hide from you that there is also a dissatisfaction with the selection of people in critical positions who not only do not help expats, but try to bring… Greek attitudes abroad, such as the “emetera” bolem. These elections have hurt the diaspora and many will express their discontent by abstaining from the elections”, underlines Ms. Sonidou.

On Saturday, 22,816 expatriates will vote in 99 voting centers around the world, in which the necessary number of 40 voters has been completed.

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