Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's the thought that counts, I suppose

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?


cream said...

People should be allowed to vote with their feet and turn up if they feel strongly about the debate.
Democracy, after all came from Greece (although it went away for a while)and it would be a shame to start chipping away at it!

EllasDevil said...

I actually believe in compulsary voting. People have died for the right to vote. People in some countries don't have that right even today so it annoys me when I see how many people actually waste the privilege.

However, I agree with your point about it should be made easier to vote when your outside the area.

Sandra said...

Voting is sometimes difficult in the U.S., too. Being required to show up at an assigned polling place near your house, during very specific hours, discourages many workers from voting. One should be able to show up at any polling place and vote, no matter where you happen to be on election day.

Anonymous said...

>> Democracy, after all came from Greece (although it went away for a while)and it would be a shame to start chipping away at it!

The ancient Greeks had a word for people who abstained from participating in politics. The word was "idiot". Ancient democracy did _not_ entail the right to avoid politics altogether, but involved both rights _and_ duties.

adfjkaj said...


If immigrants can vote, then look out Greece. When I start voting, I've got some write-in candidates I'd like to add. Not only does Elena Paparizou look good in jeans, she'll probably look great on my write in ballot. By the way, how do these cat urine people keep finding you and your site? And, what's this all about. I just don't understand.

teacher dude said...

The ironic thing was in the last general election the actual number of people who voted was about 70 %, just a few percentage points above the UK turnout. So in the end compulsory voting doesn't seem to make much of a difference.