Euro-Mayor on Symi
120 English, Italians and Germans who live permanently on the island vote in the elections
In 2002, the Municipality elections on Symi were on a knife edge, with only 9 votes difference. This October, the election campaign is expected to be decided by the… foreign element, that is the 120 nationals from the countries of the European Union who have the right to vote and are on the electoral register of the island.
The leaders of each of the two parties are adjusting/adapting their election campaign to this new fact, preparing election leaflets in both Greek and English. In addition, they are including in their ballot paper representatives from the community of their European citizens.
“I am very happy that my husband and I will vote in the Municipal elections” says Ms. Gillian Bennett. “We feel Greek and our home is on Symi. We have moved from England and Greece is now our homeland”.
Gillian with her husband Robin Bennett came to Symi from England six years ago. They are pensioners and they intend to stay on the island forever.
“We are not a foreign body”
“We love Symi, we love its people and we consider ourselves part of the island. For this reason we carried out all the formalities in order to get the right to vote at the Municipality elections in October. We consider it very important and we want with our vote to show that we are not a foreign body, but active citizens of a place that we have decided to spend the rest of ours lives in” says Ms Bennett from her house in picturesque Chorio, in Symi.
The 120 Europeans of Symi are English, Italians and Germans that live permanently on the island. It should be noted that the Dodecanese, is the country of Greece with the most citizens of the European Union (1,393 of a total of about 9,000 in the whole country) that will vote in the Municipal elections the following October.
There are going to be non-Greek candidates for the council in the ballot of the two parties in Symi. Ms Jean Manship from England has lived in Symi for 23 years and she will be a candidate with the party of the Mayor Lefteris Papakalodoukas. It is expected that the ballot of the other party headed by Agapitos Adoniadis will also include a non-Greek candidate though his or her name is not yet known.
“I am aware of the problems”
As Ms Manship points out, she took the decision to participate in the elections, after first discussing it with other non-Greeks who are permanent residents of the island and getting their agreement. “I have lived in the island for so many years, and I am well aware of the problems, especially the ones relating to tourism”, says Ms Manship who has a café bar in Chorio. “Many foreigners live in Symi who should be helped by the Municipal authorities. That’s why I have decided to get involved with the elections, so that my contribution in the solving of their problems and the problems of the island in general can be effective. Besides, it is very charming and interesting for an English woman to get involved in politics in Greece”, she says and finishes “I have many Greek friends and I hope they will vote for me, so that I can succeed in being elected to the Municipal Council.”
And a paper in English as well
In the electoral registar of Symi, there are 2,500 Greeks and 120 citizens from the European Union. The non-Greeks who live on the island have their regular news information . A Symiot, Nikos Halkitis, with the collaboration of non-Greeks who live on the island, publishes in the English language a many-paged newspaper with all the Symi news and interesting historical articles, without forgetting of course the… gossip columns!