NEWS

Greeks step out and exercise their right to vote in elections for all levels of local government

With opening time at polling stations around the country for tomorrow’s local elections now imminent, anxiety is running high over the prospective results and – at the Interior Ministry and municipalities – smooth electoral proceedings. For the first time in 40 years, an attempt is being made to conduct these elections with absolute fairness through the revision of electoral rolls and the implementation of voting procedures that limit, or even eliminate, the possibility of manipulation. The revisions needed to accomplish this have not been free of alarm. Over the past month, absurdities regarding the contents of electoral rolls have been widespread. A repeat of this bedlam, therefore, cannot be ruled out for tomorrow. Despite the concerns, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis has expressed confidence that problems will be restricted. In comments made to the press yesterday, he assured that measures had been taken to combat any problems that may arise. Yet despite the minister’s optimism, tens of thousands of voters based in the Athens municipality district have suddenly discovered that, against their will, they have been left off rolls. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether additional registration – or non-registration – problems will surface come voting time. Nevertheless, an enormous team of ministry and municipality officials, backed by a computerized data network, will begin offering its services very early tomorrow morning. All this amounts to nothing more than the means toward an end, this being the appointment of local officials as administrative representatives of our cities and towns. Two percent of the country’s population is campaigning for public posts, while in a few parts of the country, candidates actually outnumber voters. In Grammos, Kastoria, northern Greece, for example, 60 percent of the local population are running for public positions. With pre-election campaigns now on the home stretch, Skandalidis and various Athens-based candidates yesterday urged Athenians to step out and exercise their right to vote. Polling stations open at 7 a.m.