Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day 36 - The End of All News

Ever since we arrived in the country last month, Greece has been enraptured by the leadership election for the opposition party, the Socialists, PASOK.

Coming from Britain where no one could give a monkey’s about any political party, let alone the opposition, the level of interest is fascinating.

Every night the TV news is awash with comment and rage as the merits of the two contenders (the bald man versus the fat man) are played out. Apart from occasional updates on Archbishop Christodolou’s (failing) health, there are no other stories.

Today is the vote. An interesting aspect, to British eyes, is the PASOK system whereby anyone on the Greek electoral register can (for 2 Euros) cast a vote, not just members of the party.

This means supporters of other parties can turn up and vote for whoever they think is the most useless; a strange thing to leave yourself open to.

In fact, by the time the polls shut, more than 700,000 votes are cast which, given the population of Greece, is like 4 million people turning out in the UK to decide on the Tory leadership.
Not only is the level of interest here unthinkable to a British voter, but so is the fact that the bald man (Papandreou, the incumbent) is in the race at all, seeing as he has lost the last two general elections on the trot.

In Britain, if you lose an election you are sacked. In Britain, if you are the leader of the opposition and you fail to rise 10 points in the opinion polls you are sacked. In Britain, if people become bored with your face, you are sacked.

But here, they stick with their man. In fact, by nine o‘clock its clear that this bald man who’s lost two elections has seen off the challenge of the fat man and retained his leadership.

God knows what they’re going to talk about on the news now.

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