Sunday, June 07, 2009

2009 European parliamentary elections in Greece

The sea

In a few minutes the polls will close for the European parliamentary elections in Greece. In Thessaloniki the weather has been excellent with temperatures in the low 30s with just a few wisps of clouds to disturb the azure blue sky, a tour operator's dream package and a nightmare for Greek politicians. Unlike say, Britain where good weather ensures a higher turnout at the polls, a perfect summer's day has sent voters in Greece's second city rushing to the seaside to enjoy the country's famed beaches.

Unlike 2007, my local polling station has been as quiet with just a trickle of people coming in and out to cast their votes. In the last national elections the school was abuzz with commotion and movement as people desperately looked for places to park their car or chat with friends and neighbours. As is the case in Greece, civic duty then had the air of a carnival with people enjoying the festive atmosphere. Today the picture is completely different as local residents have taken advantage of the three day holiday and left the city leaving the roads empty for those wishing to vote in the EU elections.

Despite the fact the turnout is likely to be much higher than in many other EU countries many political leaders are anxiously awaiting mot just the results for their particular party but also the percentage of absentee votes.

After a year and a half of almost non - stop accusations of corruption and mismanagement the ruling New Democracy party is expecting a drop in their figures. However, considering how many times the party's name has been implicated in graft and influence peddling scandals things could be worst.

New Democracy's standing in the polls has been helped considerably by the fact that rival left - wing PASOK party has also been facing corruption charges concerning its last stint in power when it allegedly accepted bribes from German electronics giant Siemens over contracts for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Smaller parties such as the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and SYRIZA have been trying hard to capitalise on the larger parties failings but with limited success, unable to match the vast media budgets that New Democracy and PASOK have at their disposal. In addition the incestuous relationship between Greek media corporations and political life means that those not allied with the two main parties struggle, often in vain to get their message across.

However, voters are expected to show with their absence that it is not business, a fact likely to influence the timing of the next general elections.

For more information check out the Wiki page on the 2009 European elections in Greece.

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