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European Parliament Election Results

June 13, 1999



This news item is courtesy of the Rainbow Party


On the 13th of June, 1999, the RAINBOW Party (representing the Macedonian minority in Greece) participated in the European Elections.
Elections for the European Parliament are held in all the member countries of the European Union. The number of representatives a country is allotted depends upon its population. For example, Italy is allotted 87 representatives, while Greece is allotted 25.
All political parties, including RAINBOW, were permitted to participate in these elections. However, a representative must gain at least three percent of the popular vote in order to be eligible. Unfortunately, this usually means that only the larger political parties succeed in having members elected.
In the previous elections for the European Parliament the RAINBOW party officially received 7300 votes. While this may not have been enough to elect a representative, it was, nevertheless, the first time that the Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece had any political representation, whatsoever.
In these elections RAINBOW participated with the support of the European Free Alliance. In some EU member states minority candidates are able to overcome the obligatory 3% hurdle. The European Free Alliance has succeeded in sending representatives to the European Parliament in the past, and should it succeed again it would be able to offer some representation to other minority parties, such as RAINBOW, that are not able to overcome this numerical barrier.
RAINBOW prepared a slate of 25 candidates. Included in that list was Mr. Jean-Maria Bogaert of Belgium, a representative of the European Free Alliance and member of the Flemish Union. Mr. Bogaert's inclusion in RAINBOW's slate indicates the support of the European Free Alliance.

Slate for the Elections


Candidate


Town


Region (Okolya)


Anastasiadis Stavros


Ovcharani - Meliti


Lerinska


Bekiari Marianthi


Ovcharani - Meliti


Lerinska


Bogaert Jean-Marie


Brugge, Belgium


n/a


Boules Anastasios


Ekshi Su - Xyno Nero


Lerinska


Dafopoulos Ilias


Zabrdeni - Lofi


Lerinska


Denas Dimitrios


Mokreni - Variko


Kaylarska


Konstantinou Georgios


Voden - Edessa


Vodenska


Maggos Konstantinos


Armensko - Alona


Lerinska


Mainou Elisavet


Krassoradi - Ahlada


Lerinska


Manakoulis Hristos


Ber - Veroia


Berska


Manou Ioannis


Ilijievo - Halkidona


Enijevardarska


Mantzas Elevtherios


Ekshi Su - Xyno Nero

Lerinska


Missios Ioannis


Gorno Kotori - Ano Idroussa


Lerinska


Papadimitriou Stiliani


Tsakoni - Hrisi


Sobotska


Sakellarios Nikos


Trebno - Kardia


Kaylarska


Siekris Antonios


Ovcharani - Meliti


Lerinska


Siles Georgios


Setina - Skopos


Lerinska


Sovislis Konstantinos


Ovcharani - Meliti


Lerinska


Tapos Georgios


Ramna - Omalos


Gyumenjichka


Tasopoulos Konstantinos


Zabrdeni - Lofi


Lerinska


Terzis Nikolaos


Gradobor - Pentalofos


Solunska


Vasiliadis Petros


Ekshi Su - Xyno Nero


Lerinska


Vasiliou Petros


Dolno Kotori - Kato Idroussa


Lerinska


Voskopoulos Pavlos


Lerin - Florina


Lerinska


Vragkos Hristos


Trsye - Korifi


Lerinska


The Results

In these elections RAINBOW obtained 4951 votes, as reported by the Greek Ministry of Internal Affairs.
It is noteworthy that the crisis in Kosovo, which took place only 150 km north of the border between Macedonia and Greece, caused the elections to occur in a climate of war psychosis.
The Kosovo crisis itself was an expression of minority problems. As in the Macedonian case in Northern Greece, the Kosovo crisis relates to the denial, by the state, of basic human rights targetting a specific ethnic minority.
The images of the Kosovar Albanians fleeing the ethnic cleansing by Serb paramilitary groups resonated with the Macedonians of Northern Greece, many of whom remember the terror and ethnic cleansing undertaken by the Greek regime in 1949. Those familiar with the events of that time can appreciate the horror the Macedonians of Greece felt upon seeing those images -- images that reflected their own past.
On a larger scale the Kosovo crisis resulted in an extremely anti-Western, anti-European mood in the Greek mass media. It was very difficult for anyone to present a point of view different to the official position on this matter.
It was under these circumstances that the European Elections took place.
With regard to voting irregularities:
The majority of Greek mass media (large and small alike) refused to report anything about the election campaign undertaken by the RAINBOW party. They would not announce RAINBOW's platform, even though it promoted tolerance and understanding based on a European framework. Consequently, the RAINBOW party was denied a fair opportunity to declare its views to the general public.
With respect to Greek electoral law, all public and private stations are required to offer at least five minutes of broadcast time to the smaller parties in order for them to present their platform to the general electorate. As an alternative they are required to organize a broadcast in which all of the minor parties have representation.
In practice, the Greek MEGA Channel refused to broadcast a program presenting the platform of the RAINBOW party, despite the fact that the program had already been taped. This method of censorship generated immediate criticism from Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group -- Greece.
Having said all this, we must state that the national television station did allow RAINBOW five minutes of broadcast time to present its platform, after RAINBOW made a formal request to do so.
Let us also be frank. The five minutes of access afforded RAINBOW and other smaller parties is in itself severely restrictive. Compare this to the 60 minutes afforded the larger parties.
In addition, the smaller parties (especially minority parties) incur financial hardship and must pay for all their own electoral expenses. Consider that in Greece each party must print its own lists and ballots and distribute them to the polling stations. The cost to the smaller parties can be quite significant, whereas, the larger parties are financed from the public purse.
Another irregularity, which must be made known, concerns the issue of ballot distribution. The electoral commission (composed of members of regional councils) is supposed to distribute ballots of all the parties running. In many instances election officers were refusing to hand out ballots with the names of the RAINBOW candidates.
Some of the more courageous RAINBOW supporters demanded openly that they be given proper ballots or at least blank ballots upon which they could write the names of the candidates they wanted to support. However, in doing so, they had to openly declare their political sympathies to the authorities. This had the effect of neutralizing one's legal right to election by secret ballot -- specifically targetting RAINBOW supporters. It was a deliberate attempt at dissuading voters from supporting RAINBOW. Most were too intimidated to ask for RAINBOW ballot's or demand blank ones.
Irregularities of this type were documented in the districts of Serres, Ber (Verria), Voden (Edessa) and Solun (Thessaloniki).
RAINBOW is also aware that in a number of polling stations Greek judicial representatives, without valid reason, were destroying ballots that had been cast for RAINBOW candidates.
Finally, there were irregularities associated with the numerical sum of ballots. In some polling stations the numerical number of ballots cast for RAINBOW candidates was reduced by one-third to one-half after the ballots were transferred to the municipal offices and the official results were released.
In its first formal meeting after the elections, the members of the RAINBOW party reviewed the above-mentioned irregularities objectively. It was considered a positive step that RAINBOW was able to participate in the electoral process at all. Even the officially declared result of about 5,000 votes in support of RAINBOW candidates is quite successful, given the circumstances.
Eleftherotypia, a major Greek daily, pointed out that in terms of the local context RAINBOW had been relatively successful -- garnering 1427 votes in the Florina prefecture alone.
During the election campaign, and despite all the obstacles and censorship, it was possible for RAINBOW to advance its platform for minority rights in Greece under a European framework to a larger section of the population.
The RAINBOW party wants to thank all those who helped financially and morally with these elections. We also want to thank those who voted for RAINBOW and those who supported RAINBOW but were unable to vote for us because electoral officials denied them ballots.
It is our objective estimation that the election results offer a strong basis for furthering our struggle to obtain basic rights for all minorities living in Greece today.
Central Committee of the RAINBOW party.

     
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