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Why some Greeks haven’t voted

09 November 2010 / 16:11:52  GRReporter
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40% of the voters in Greece have decided not to participate in elections. In Attica region the percentage of people who decided to do something else in the election day instead of entering the dark room and giving their vote for mayors and regional governors in the country is 67%. The vast number made political analysts in the country wonder what caused the majority of capital residents to turn their back to the right to have their voice heard. Some said this was due to the boredom of the Greeks of their political life. Others said it was a kind of protest against the economic policies and the restrictions introduced in the last year following the Memorandum of financial support.

I decided to turn to my own circle of acquaintances and friends to understand why they have not voted. My first surprise was that most of the people I spoke with actually had voted. This was a surprise, because none of them had declared openly their preferences to a particular party or political movement. At the same time, I know for sure that no one is happy with the crisis that Greece is experiencing now. Almost all of them, however, acknowledged that no nominee expressed their views on many issues in full. The main arguments I heard from all that had exercised their right to vote were: I do not want only older voters’ voice to be heard; if we want to change something we will have to get involved; I can not complain if I left someone else to decide for me.

All the reasons are indicative of the awake civil conscience of the circle of people I spoke with and who voted in the local elections. However, the opinion of all those who decided not to participate in the elections is under question. I sought answers from several people, "Why haven’t you vote in the local elections?"
First on my list was the 27-year-old Maria, who has a master's degree in German philology. She worked in a bookstore for German literature previously but they laid her off a month ago because the business declined and there were no money to pay the salaries. Maria explained to me that the right to vote is one of the most important achievements of democracy in general but she was unable to identify with none of the candidates in this elections. "I intend to vote but I gave up the last moment. I'm tired of looking at how the power is going from New Democracy to PASOK and vice versa. If I would have voted I would have supported any of the smaller parties." She explained that the other smaller political parties (LAOS - extreme right, the Greek Communist Party - KKE, SYRIZA - radical leftist, etc.) are pretty extreme in their views and the positions they support do not reflect her vision for the future of the country. "I realized that if I vote for someone who I do not sympathize I am untrue to myself.” That is why the 27-year-old unemployed Maria has not voted.  

"Mocking people and waste of time" is voting in Greece, according to Mariela, who is 31 years old. She is graduated economist and is working as a financial adviser in a private company. Currently, she is preparing for doctorate exams. "I preferred to stay home this weekend and read for my exams in December instead of wasting my time with these elections." She was clear that democratic elections in Greece are just window dressing because large political organizations are basically the same and whoever comes to power, the result is always the same. Mariela’s opinion is that one should build own priorities and that voting for mayor will not help her build a better future.   

The view of the 25-year-old Iota was interesting. She is a teacher in Italian at a private school for foreign languages and said she went to vote but put wrong completed ballot on purpose. The reason is that it is very important to vote in her opinion and apathy or indifference are not the answer to social problems. In order not to give her vote for a candidate she does not approve (and she does not approve any of them), she wrote a verse from her favourite song on the ballot paper, put it in a white envelope and then put the envelope into the urn.

Voters in Greece have the right to vote with the so-called ‘white ballot’ which enables them to vote without choosing a specific candidate. Thereby citizens are able to express their opinion without making a compromise with their choice. "I read somewhere recently that the white ballot paper shall be added to the number of votes of the candidate with the highest vote in the second elections," explained Iota and added: "I did not want to risk someone to take advantage of my vote so I chose to share a song with the committee than to put the white ballot." Her friend Anna did the same but she drew a frowny face on the ballot paper. .

The reason the 24-year-old Fenya not to vote in the local elections was much more practical. She is a Public Relations student at the American University in Athens and works as a shop-controller in one of the shops of a famous chain of clothing and accessories. Fenya explained she wanted to vote but she is registered in northern Greece in the town of Drama, where her family comes from. She tried to transfer her right to vote in Athens, but like everything else in Greece related to public administration, it would take too long. "It's the mid-season now and we have many new orders at work and I have to prepare many, many assignments. It is impossible to take a break to vote in Drama so I get into the group of the indifferent, although I am not."

Tags: PoliticsSocietyElectionsVoteGreece
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