Sunday, 25 January 2015

Elections (Εκλογές)

Back in the days when I was much slimmer and living in Athens, and I had just sorted out my Greek ID, as election days loomed, I had to sort out my voting rights in Greece, especially since in those days, not voting in an election was a punishable offence (that no one was ever punished for, as far as I know).

In those days, you needed a voting booklet together with your ID card in order to vote (I got mine issued in 1994, at a time when much of the Western world was already using email). The voting booklet looked like it had been made of recycled paper (at a time when recycling was a virtually unknown concept in Greece - the rubbish bins on the street stood side by side with bags of old clothes and tossed-away furniture). It had nothing printed on the outside covers to denote its contents.

You could only vote in the locality where you were registered, and most people had ties with their villages, no matter how tiny they were. Public employees were given time off work to travel to their villages if they lived far away, which applies for people living in main centres (eg Athens). Not so for non-state employees, who were never even considered when pension schemes, retirement and employment laws were being drawn up in Parliament (which is why everyone dreamed of a public service job). If you lived a certain number of kilometres away from your registered locality (was it 200km? I can't remember), and you couldn't get there in time to vote, you had to get a note from the local police station which excused you from voting (the information concerning addrresses was never able to checked - they simply went on trust). I got one of these συγχωροχάρτια ('forgive-papers', similar to the indulgentia) twice in my lifetime.

Once I left Athens and moved to Hania, I had no excuse but to vote. I used my booklet 5 times before it was abolished:

We now vote with just our ID cards. But the basic method of voting has not changed at all. It is still manual, there are no computers being used in the process, we don't vote by mail or online, and it looks rather old-fashioned. For some, this old-fashioned world reeks of the staleness that still characterises the Greek state.

From the 2012 elections - they make good scrap paper.

Greece and the Greeks have never really kept pace with each other. I don't think they ever will.

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