Spotlight on local polls

The second round of local elections will take place in seven prefectures and 247 municipalities around Greece tomorrow with the ruling New Democracy party looking to extend its dominance of local government, and main opposition party PASOK hoping to score some notable victories. The Conservatives won 28 of 54 prefectures in the first round of voting last Sunday, while the Socialists gained 17 regional governorships. This was a blow for PASOK which expected to win closer to 25 prefectures. Although the leadership of seven prefectures – Lefkada, Cephalonia, Arcadia, Hania, Serres, Karditsa and Magnesia – will be decided tomorrow, PASOK is not expected to make significant gains. The Socialists’ best chances lie on the Ionian islands of Cephalonia and Lefkada. The PASOK hopeful on Lefkada, Costas Aravanis, missed out on the win by just 85 votes last Sunday. He gathered 41.56 percent of the vote but the electoral law for local polls stipulates that a candidate must receive over 42 percent of the vote to be elected. Otherwise the two most popular candidates fight it out in a run-off election a week later. New Democracy is expected to hold on to the prefectures of Arcadia and Serres. The closest contests are expected in Karditsa, Magnesia and Hania. Meanwhile, 32 of the 247 municipalities that will be contested tomorrow will be in Attica. The highest profile contests, however, will be in Thessaloniki and Patras where New Democracy and PASOK will be competing against each other. In Thessaloniki, incumbent Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos is favored to beat PASOK candidate Chryssa Arapoglou. Papageorgopoulos gained 41.3 percent of the vote in the first round compared to 21 percent for Arapoglou. Both candidates have asked for a large turnout in the hope of gaining the extra votes they need. In Patras, Conservative candidate Evangelos Floratos and Socialist hopeful Andreas Fouras both received 34 percent last Sunday and the final result tomorrow is expected to be a close call.