Monday, 9 October 2006

Election Fever

Just like everywhere in Greece the village of Molyvos is full of election fever. Every night there are gatherings where people try to raise votes for a new Mayor. Next Sunday will be the first round. Then all the Greeks have to vote. And they all have to be sober. Officially, selling alcohol after midnight on Saturday is forbidden. So that will be a really cozy Saturday Night.

You have to vote where you are born or registered, which means this coming weekend a large migration will take place in Greece. A lot of people have to travel back or forth from Athens and so on, wherever they come from. Let's hope the weather will be better than last weekend. Lesvos was lucky with all the rain, having just a few showers. But in the North of Greece and around Thessaloniki there was a state of emergency because of all the flooded houses and floods destroying roads.

On Sunday 15 October you can vote for 2 members of one 'mayors list' for the municipal council (you vote for the people, not for a political party). The two parties with the most votes then compete the next Sunday for who will become the new Mayor.

In Molyvos there are five candidates: Nicos Molvalis, Dionisis Karatsalis, Kralli Raloe (short: Raloe) Konstantellis, Stelios Karadonis and the actual Mayor Lefteris Vogiatzis. If you asked a candidate from a Mayors party a week ago what the programme was of the candidate Mayor, they would not know. So finally last week all the manifestos came out, and I assure you, they are all pretty promising. Molyvos is going to be paradise on earth, if you really believe all the future Mayors.

Dionisis Karatsalis is the candidate for the communist party, short: KKE (spoken: koukou-aa). As a real red rascal he is against the capitalist state of America, Europe and NATO. According to the KKE the money from Europe only goes to the big industries, the wages are too low in Greece, the taxes too high and there is too much unemployment. In local matters they think the 5 euro entrance for the Hot Springs is too much, the 2% tax each restaurant and shop has to pay in Molyvos is too high and the power of the tourist operators needs to be smaller. Dionisis wants a museum, a better library and a better exploitation of the Hot Springs.

But to be honest, everybody wants the same. And Dionisis did not read the manifesto of the actual Mayor Lefteris, because in there he explains what he did in the last 4 years. Besides the improvement of sewage, drainage and roads, he got money from Europe to improve walking paths and their signs (44,000 euros) and he got a 1,625,000 euro European subsidy to renew the main street of Molyvos going to the harbour. I understand now why everybody in Molyvos was so annoyed the whole winter long by this big project. You do not spend that amount of money in just one month. Another creation of Lefteris is the Molyvos kafenion (there was no kafenion anymore in Molyvos). I call that one the Living Room of the Mayor because each night you can find him there. Lefteris' impressive program has full colour pictures of other things that Mayors should usually do. But I have no idea what his plans for the future are. They cannot be much different from what the others want. Everybody wants the best for this municipality.

The list of plans from Nikos Molvalis is extremely long and I think that even if he were Mayor for a hundreds years, he would never be able to realise all those projects. Every idea you ever heard seem to be on his list. Most remarkable projects are: bringing hot spring water to the hotels, a foot path from the harbour to the beach of Molyvos, the organization of the Tourist Office (I thought there already was one), taking part in tourist exhibitions (I am wondering what he means by this...), opening a school for tourism, getting a movie theatre, the re- opening of one of the two old tunnels going from the castle to the beach (at the disco Congas). Wow, that sounds exciting!

However, Nikos Molvalis wants the best. He wants more excitement for the local people, more culture and more education. He wants to protect nature, he wants more money from Europe for agriculture, he wants more sports for the locals. And he wants a day care centre for the children, a thing Molyvos really needs because in the summer the mothers work their socks off while the tourists and their children are enjoying themselves.

The only female candidate wants about the same as Nikos, but she knows better how to bring it, also she is the only candidate who has vision. She is a lady who used to be a member of the KKE light (light version of the communistic party), but has now joined PASOK. She first wants to have a good look at the future for the municipality, before planning projects. Just like the others she wants more culture in all the villages, to protect the environment, a better exploitation of the Hot Springs and other tourist attractions in the municipality. She wants a review of the planning laws for building, she thinks about what tourism could be best in the North of the island (she is against all inclusive hotels), she want young people to take an interest in agriculture and she want to create more educational and cultural events for the local youth.

The biggest point on all lists however is the rubbish dump. They say that finally there will be a central place for waste treatment near Agia Paraskevi. Stelios Karadonis is the man for the middle class and he is full of personal promises for his direct voters. He had the brilliant idea to relocate the actual refuse dump 3 kilometres further in a deserted valley (where a river runs...) where nobody would be disturbed by it. In Holland we say: from the sight, out of the heart. I am wondering how many right thinking people will vote for this great idea...

So you see, it is happy hours in Molyvos. It bristles with new ideas and especially all the old ones which are to be aired once again. The electors are summoned to participate in gatherings maybe not every night but certainly every other night and the candidates on the lists travel through all the villages in order to get votes. Petra does it better than the municipality of Molyvos: in the central market place they created a kind of speakers corner where every night everybody can say what he wants.

It is going to be a tight race, because there are clearly two opponents: the more traditional Greeks who consider the problems the way their ancestors did and like to work with favouritism (Stelios and Lefteris) and the group who is open to new ideas, like those of the European foreigners living here (Raloe and Nikos). Maybe the choice seems to be easy in a tourist city like Molyvos, but one should not forget that the villages of Vafios, Argenos, Lepetimnos, Sykaminia and Skala Sykaminia, where most people work in the agricultural sector, also belong to this municipality and they would probably not be happy with a woman as Mayor or foreigners in their municipal council.

The elections are alive and well in the villages, for young and old, for local or foreigner. Even without the villages plastered everywhere with election bills where you can admire the future Mayor (it is said that, in the Greek way, this will happen at the last moment) election fever is high in the streets. Even though most tourists are gone, Molyvos is still very much alive. And if everyone keeps their word, it will be the best place on earth with only happy and bright people...

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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