GREEK MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
October 11-18, 1998
There are three main levels of government in Greece. The first level is the parliament or national assembly. The second is regional councils or prefectures and the third is local municipal districts. There are 52 prefectures within which are elected local councils. Recently there were local elections in Greece.
The third level encompasses local communities comprising several villages or towns. For example, the Florina prefecture is comprised of 11 districts. Each district elects a council of 25 members. Unlike parliamentary elections, in local municipal elections there are no official parties. The citizens form their own electoral slates and each person on the slate campaigns locally for votes.
Mr. Ilias Dafopoulos, a member of the RAINBOW party, campaigned in Meliti (Ovchareni). Other members of RAINBOW campaigned in the Vevi (Banitsa), etc. The election system is somewhat complicated. However, in the first round the citizens vote on a series of slates. The two highest ranking slates are chosen. This means that even though a given candidate may receive a large number of votes, they may not be elected if the slate they are in does not receive a majority.
As an example, Mr. Dafopoulos's slate fell short of being elected by 16 votes even though he was ranked 5th of 21 candidates in the voting. The process involves majority election by slate, and even though a candidate may get a large number of votes, it is the overall count of the slate that determines the outcome.
However, other candidates did manage to be elected in the local councils, including the Meliti (Ovchareni) and Boreshnitsa district councils. In the Florina (Lerin) and Amindeon (Sorovich) districts candidates sympathetic to minority issues were elected. As in all elections there were some successes and some failures but what is most important is that Macedonians became involved openly in the process.
This is the first time such elections have been held in Greece as reforms were recently undertaken whereby the local districts were restructured. It was very gratifying to have so many Macedonian candidates on the slates. Regardless of whether they were elected or not, they were all received warmly. In those areas where there were no Macedonian candidates RAINBOW supported candidates who reacted positively towards minority issues. In some cases, in order to obtain the Macedonian vote, some candidates would play Macedonian music or speak in Macedonian as part of their campaign.
Finally, the RAINBOW party itself, as a legal political organization within Greece, intends to participate in the European Parliament elections scheduled for June, 1999.