Election day

posted in: Life in Lesvos | 0

Election day today; I had thought it would be the same here as back in England, but it seems we are more like India, with the election staggered across the EU (and at 500 million plus, almost as big.  It seems though, according to the map above, seen outside a currency exchange in Mytilini, Britain has already left.

I can only give the most superficial impression of the impact here, as without any knowledge of the language, I can only guess at the meaning of the posters and political literature.  There is a decidedly parochial feel, however.  There is apparently a large number of parties, and though some have shops acting as party offices, there are also impromptu ones: two garden sheds and a gazebo, set up on Sappho Square, as well as numerous tables set up on the pavement in various parts of the town, each with some plastic garden chairs around it, and a handful of party activists, their activity being chiefly checking their phones and stuffing leaflets into envelopes.  I am sure it is no different at home; it is just that the weather allows this to happen out in the sunshine, rather than in some dingy office.  I am sure I am misrepresenting the nature of the struggle, and that they represent a broad spectrum of strong political opinion; it just doesn’t look like that.

Not that the debate is always so cosy here; it can’t be with the refugee crisis literally on its doorstep, inevitably provoking a passionate reaction.  Just over a year ago, there was violence and bloodshed in the centre of this pretty tourist town.  Over the course of some two weeks, there was a march from the refugee camp at Moria (yes, really) to the centre of town to protest the conditions there, and the occupation of Sappho Square; a violent reaction, called a pogrom by some, by a crowd of right-wingers; and a subsequent response by antifa forces, resulting in a pitched battle.

Now, thankfully, Mytilini appears a quiet tourist centre once again, but that does not mean the tensions have gone away.

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