Municipal and Regional Elections
Sunday 15 th October 2006
Ithaca Greece
This morning the Kefalonia ferry changed its schedule so that those who had come to Ithaca to vote, could tick off their preference and still get back to Patra, Athens and wherever else they came from in Greece, by lunchtime. The Booths opened at 6am, the ferry left at 7.30am. All through the day, the local community casually made its way around to the various voting booths set up in the schools of each village, making the ritual stop at the Cafenion for a little political chat before heading back home. The weather was fine and so were the moods of the people in the streets. There were high hopes and campaign slogans ping-ponged from table to table, as locals rallied behind their nominees with great passion. If nothing else, Voting Day brings out lively conversations and debates all over the island. The Nominees nervously twiddle their thumbs waiting for the results, but after this week there's still next week, when the final two will be chosen from. That's the way of elections here on Ithaca. With the small population of the island, each vote is gold, and a single vote can make the difference between Mayor or back to a straight job. ____________________________________________________
At the Booth
For the volunteers working the Election shift, it's a long day as locals come to vote in dribs and drabs from dawn to dusk. In a quiet moment, they too head to the Cafenion for a quick Greek or Espresso, maybe a pie or toasted sandwich to give them strength to wait out the day. As with weddings, baptisms or funerals, elections are another great way that the community socializes together.
A registered resident of Ithaca, EU or Greek, has the right to vote in the elections, although new residents rarely make that commitment unless their Greek language and communication skills enlighten them to the political leanings and direction of each nominee. Choosing the best candidate is difficult even when voting in their country of origin, but without great understanding of the political mechanisms of Greece, they may as well just pick a name out of a hat.
Kionis' white horse wasn't at all infected by election fever, but he, along with the few donkeys on the island, were the only ones not to be. It seemed no matter how old or infirm, people on the island took todays' vote very, very seriously, walking and climbing if necessary, to the voting booths around Ithaca.
Above - L - R - Roula, Kosta, Dyonisios, Georgos and Asimina take a break after a busy morning at Avra Restaurant. They project, predict and speculate on todays' result and what it will mean for them and their Kioni community.
Behind the beautiful Kioni Bay view, a passionate and political heart beats strong.
In Platrithia, the mood was light and relaxed, but the passion and the political views of this community are equally as intense as elsewhere on the island. By 6pm, it had been a long day for the volunteers but still they managed to entertain eachother through the quiet times to come up smiling.
The Voting Booths closed at 7pm and then it was off to the Party Stations. Groups huddled around their offices giving support to eachother while the count and count down began. Telephones and mobiles ran hot as the first votes came in, but it would be a few more hours until there was a real indication of who would be in the running for next weeks' final vote.
Everyone wants to win and the tension around Vathy is palpable. Vathy streets are vibrating with anxiety. This year there are more candidates than usual, 5 to be exact, so educated guesses are more complicated. Too many variables even for the experts to predict.
KKE headquarters are closed, signifying that today it may be better being in bed than red. Whatever the outcome, there seems to be one consensus among the community, and that is that a change is imminent.
By the time the clock strikes midnight, the count will be concluded and the island will then have a better idea of who will be sitting in the head office of the Municipal Building in Vathy.
The island waits and then...
As at o.45 16th October the count has Georgos Vasilopoulos at number 1 position for Mayor and Panaghias Daouzis second. The count was held up with Platrithia. Seems about 15 people put an X in the box instead of a cross. As it stands now, the percentages of both Vasilopoulos and Daouzis, require that there be another vote next Sunday, so the outcome is not final. Depending on which way the preferences go, the next vote could result in a turn around. For the Regional's it's Georgatos and Parisi that have the votes of the community. Another corner of the world leans to the right.
Needless to say there were many happy and equally disappointed faces once the results came in. For the majority its' obviously a dream come true and for the minority, another reason to be more involved in local politics in the future. Whoever will eventually end up in the Mayors Office, one thing is for sure, they will have the many expectations of the community resting heavily on their shoulders.


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