100k first-time voters excluded from Greek elections

Bureaucracy and indifference look likely to keep 100,000 eighteen-year-olds from voting in the coming elections.

Mocking a New Democracy campaign ad

Twitter meme: mocking the New Democracy campaign ad

With elections only eleven days away, the Greek state has found itself accused of tragic negligence that looks likely to see 100,000 first-time voters unable to practise their constitutionally guaranteed right.

While Greek citizens get the right to vote on the 1st of January of their 18th year, their enrollment doesn’t start until February. In this case, with elections taking place in January, the state’s response seems to be “tough luck”.

The Greek Youth Parliament has published an open letter to the ministries of Internal Affairs and Education, questioning the stated inability of the relevant agencies to process the number of new voters in three weeks, or 15 working days.

While they clearly avoid attributing any malice to the ministry’s behaviour, they however point out that it is illegal for citizens to be unable to exercise their right in this way, especially at a time as urgent as this.

As the latest polls show, SYRIZA leads with 40 per cent of the under 25’s, while New Democracy is at only 15 per cent. In other words, the loss of votes is likely to come from the left. It is therefore not in the government’s best interest to speed things up and help these kids. Even if it is not intentional, by simply standing by, they stand to benefit.

Given Greece’s small population, these kids represent around 1 per cent of the electorate. Technically, there are two ways they could get to vote: Either change the law quickly to make registration possible via the normal routes, or allow first-time voters to register on the day in the polling stations. The ministry, however, considers the issue “closed”. This is just one more indication of how irresponsible the Greek state is when dealing with the rights of the young in Greece.

At a time when unemployment for under-25’s is almost at 50 per cent, it’s crucial that we hear the voices of those paying a hefty price for the austerity policies enacted within the last five years. Instead, the state once again tells young Greeks, “sorry, we can’t help you”.

While it’s not much of a departure for them, it is now borderline illegal. With the government in full campaign mode, there’s hardly any chance for a last-minute change.

Let’s hope the results we get on the 25th are not slim enough (on either side) to be put into question because of such dramatic incompetence.

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