Greece will be instituting a new immigration law as of 2006, and of course, Greeks in power are quite proud of their accomplishment. Only time will tell if the new law will truly benefit immigrants and Greeks alike, but for now, it is the plans for the future I'm worried about.
In this article, the ever optimistic Greek Minister of the Interior says that
the full integration of immigrants in Greek society will gradually lead to the acquirement of political rights.
While I am all for political rights for long term immigrants, I don't happen to fancy the Greek voting system. In Greece, voting isn't a right, it is a requirement. The last big election took place when my husband and I were living on Kos, and since you are required to report to your district (in my husband's case, Thessaloniki) to vote, my husband had to engage in some heady red tape to allow him to vote in our neighborhood on Kos. It was relatively painless for him, since he is in the military, but I don't really appreciate a country that forces its citizens to vote in every election yet makes it as hard for them as possible.
Now, I do understand the other side. Greece isn't a big country and it is pretty important that its citizens show up to vote. But I also believe in the right to abstain, if you bloody well want to. Obviously, those who choose to abstain have no rights to bitch about resulting politics, but hey, that's their political karma. I agree that voting not only should be a right but a responsibility, but it should not be mandatory. And the country has a responsibility to make it easy for people to cast absentee ballots when out of their district.
Now, if they simply gave long term immigrants the right to vote, but did not make it mandatory, then I suppose that is ok. But that wouldn't exactly be fair to Greek citizens now, would it?