A personal affair

A lot of derogatory comments have been written and said about this weekend’s municipal elections and the role of local governors. This once-obscure matter has degenerated into a mockery just as votes are about to be cast – and it is the political parties and their leaders who are to blame. When Simitis asks us to vote for a PASOK mayoral candidate in some obscure village in the Peloponnese to keep the big bad Right at bay, or Karamanlis urges us to «send a message» by backing the conservative candidate in another equally obscure town, it is only natural that the press will rip them to pieces. Contributing to this absurdity are thousands of Attica residents who live in Glyfada or Vrilissia but vote in Athens, where the mayoral candidates are oblivious to the problems of their locality. The more we free ourselves from the vise-like grip of central politics, the more local authority elections become a purely personal affair, far removed from campaign «messages.» Whether we like it or not, the mayor remains the political figure most accessible to citizens – the one we will approach over everyday matters such as garbage collection and local transport facilities. And it is relatively easy to communicate with the mayor who tends to «speak the same language» as his citizens. So let’s not fall into the trap of nihilistic criticism or party politics. The choice of a local governor, especially a mayor, is a very important, and personal, affair.