Monday, 21 September 2015

A storm in the Greek islands as the election result is announced

It’s breakfast time in Fiskardo, Kefalonia. There’s been a massive thunder storm in the night and now it’s pouring with rain.

And Alexis Tsipras has just been re-elected, with Syriza taking just over 35 per cent of the vote and its coalition partners, New Democracy, not far behind with 28 per cent.

Nikos the waiter doesn’t think much of the result. But, then, it was a poor turnout for what, looking through European eyes, seemed a pretty crucial election. Only 56.5 per cent bothered to vote, the highest abstention rate in the history of Greek parliamentary elections following the fall of the dictatorship in 1974.

According to
Voting in Greece is mandatory by law, however, it is rarely enforced. This year’s low turnout rate potentially reflects that Greeks did not believe that their vote would make a difference, since any government would have to enact the policies of the new Greek bailout agreement that was singed in late August. In addition, this is the third time Greeks have been called to the polls this year. The first time was in the January elections, that were followed by a second vote for the July 5 referendum.
In many instances Greek voters must travel to the district where they are registered to vote and that could involve expensive trips far from where they reside. Some Greek analysts also noted that many citizens distrust the country’s political system to the point that they don’t even want to vote.
Yesterday, I asked the proprietor of a gift shop what he thought about the election.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “They are all liars. It will be the day after the election which is important because of what happens next.”

Syriza is again forming a coalition with New Democracy, a marriage of convenience between left and centre right. In a country littered with corruption and red tape and years of financial mismanagement, the new Greek government has a huge job on its hands.

Nipping at its heels are the bad guys, Golden Dawn, who are Nazis, pure and simple, but still took seven per cent of the vote.

In the misty hills, scarecrows are strung up, ominously, next to a political flag. But which party it represents, I don’t know, it’s too tattered.
The sun shines as the rain falls, which is rather ominous or possibly hopeful, depending on how you interpret the signs, because, in Greece, a sunshower  means ‘the poor people are getting married’. It could be worse. If the sun was shining and the moon was out, it would mean the donkeys were getting married. Hee-haw.

Greece has so much going for it as a country. Sunshine, sea, snow, mountains, plains, culture, food, history (ancient and modern), hospitality, generosity. How did all go so wrong?

Meanwhile, on the islands, the storm clouds are receding and there are just weeks to go before the holiday season comes to an end.
And what then?

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

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