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The Bulgarians in Athens want polling stations in the city centre

12 May 2014 / 19:05:27  GRReporter
1878 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Less than two weeks before the European elections their preparation among the Bulgarian citizens living in Athens is close to an end. As GRReporter has already informed, those who want to vote for Bulgarian MEPs will be able to do so at three polling stations that will be opened at the Embassy of Bulgaria.

The decision of the Central Election Commission to open polling sections only in the building of the diplomatic representation of Bulgaria in Athens has however provoked reactions on the part of the Bulgarians residing in Athens. Representatives of the Public Council of the Bulgarians in Greece informed GRReporter that the fact that the Embassy is difficult to access and the lack of direct transport to it will cool the enthusiasm of many Bulgarians to vote.

"On Sunday, which is a rest day for the majority of the Bulgarians, all will gather in central Omonia Square to go to some of the Bulgarian restaurants there or just to meet up with friends and acquaintances. I think the voting activity would be higher if at least one, if not the three, polling stations were located in the centre, for example at one of the Bulgarian schools," said Valeria Kertikova, a member of one of the three sectional electoral commissions formed by the Central Election Commission in connection with the European elections.

Commenting for GRReporter, a representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria explained that this could have been done but the period for the establishment of polling stations has expired. "This year for the first time Bulgarians living abroad had the opportunity of suggesting the location of the polling stations. We sent this information to all associations of Bulgarians in Greece but we did not receive any feedback. The deadline for the embassies to submit proposals to the Central Election Commission was 2 May and the orders for the opening of the polling stations in the relevant places were issued on 6 May," he said.

Accounting for the fact that the deadlines for filing complaints against the decisions of the Central Election Commission and for taking the necessary steps to open polling stations elsewhere in Athens have expired, the probability of the request of the Bulgarian citizens being satisfied seems small. At the same time, the latest data on the applications confirmed show that only 44 Bulgarians have expressed their desire to vote in Athens.

The day of the European elections in Greece coincides with the second round of local elections in the country. At the beginning of the last week before the first round, the preparation at the candidates’ headquarters is in full swing, although all forecasts indicate that the two major municipalities, Athens and Thessaloniki, will be won over by non-partisan candidates, namely the two previous mayors George Kaminis and Yiannis Boutaris. In contrast, according to polls, former governor of Attica region Yiannis Sgouros from PASOK has the highest chance of winning again. In the region of Central Macedonia, however, former governor Apostolos Dzidzikostas is emerging as the most likely winner. He will run in the elections as an independent candidate, since New Democracy has decided to support another nomination, namely former basketball coach and long-time deputy and Minister of Sports Yiannis Ioannidis.

At the same time, recent polls forecast an insignificant precedence in the European elections for the opposition SYRIZA party over the ruling New Democracy. Various polls indicate that the difference between the two parties is in the range of 0.5% to 1.5%. The newly founded To Potamia movement and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn alternately rank third, depending on voters’ preferences.

The interest in the election results is great since they will be crucial for SYRIZA in terms of the country’s government. The main campaign slogan of the party is "We vote on 25 May; they (those who rule today - author’s note) leave the next day."

In addition, the statements of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who threatened that if his party received a very low percentage in the European elections it could withdraw from the government, have reinforced the concerns about a possible government crisis.

So far, neither SYRIZA nor PASOK has however announced the accurate percentage rate that will be crucial for their subsequent actions.

Tags: PoliticsEuropean electionsBulgarians in GreecePolling stations
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