As the municipal election gets closer, citizens worry about what will happen afterwards. The financial crisis has resulted in reduced state funding, and consequently the discrepancy between the needs of our area and the fullfilment of these needs is getting larger. It stands to reason that the bigger the reduction of the funds, the more we need competent financial managers. Competent managers, however, are not enough. We also need a common understanding and correct prioritisation of needs, something that is not so easy to achieve after a long election campaign, intense political debates and promises to the electorate. For these reasons, the fewer combinations in the elections, the easier the pre-election consensus will be. According to the newly endorsed election law, those who run for local representatives will run independently of the combination of the mayor or his/her opponents. The fewer combinations there are, the easier it will be for all local politicians to reach a common understanding and undertake a common course of action after the elections.
The worry about what will happen after the municipal elections is of course generalised, but even greater in Mani, because of two reasons:
- a) Mani’s population is small; in theory it reaches 20.000 people in both municipalities of Eastern and Western Mani, but in reality is less than 10.000 people. We should also remember that in this number of 10.000 people is included a high number of foreigners. The population drastically increases during the summer months, when we welcome many visitors.
- b) the geographical area of the municipalities of Eastern and Western Mani is large and has a large number of sparsely populated municipalities.
These characteristics of our region mean that the management of Mani is not easy. We propose the use of a joint list of candidates in the local elections for both mayor and local representative.
The use of a joint list of candidates instead of two separate ballots, [i.e., one for the mayor and another one for the local representative (τοπικός εκπρόσωπος for municipalities with population less than 300 people)], will help the electorate choose the most competent and most honest political candidates, without the problems associated with two separate ballots. In this way, there will be a common understanding regarding the prioritisation of public works during the post-election period ; it will also lead to a common understanding about claiming the fair share of funds from both the region (περιφέρεια) and the state. A consensus in the presentation of the needs of our area and in the coordination in the claims of the fair share of funds will finally help achieve a higher funding from these two sources, state and region (περιφέρεια).
The big difference in the number of people who live in Mani during the winter and during the summer means that our area needs specific public works that will increase the quality of the holidays of our visitors. These works will help bring even more visitors to Mani, and as a result more prosperity and more jobs to our area. The funds that have been alotted so far to the municipalities of Eastern and Western Mani are not enough to cover the expenses for this kind of infrastructure. The necessary increase in funds can only happen through unity, careful planning and effective presentation of the needs to the responsible entities and those who govern them. If these claims are put forward by local politicians who have a common understanding and a common goal, the results will be favourable.
Maniot egotism, although often altruistic, negatively affects the local politicians’ willingness to serve, and it constitutes the main obstacle in the development of a common understanding. In the history of our region there are examples of this kind of conduct, which could be attributed to the influence of our region’s environment and climate on our genes. However, in our history we also have examples of consensus and unity, which were achieved in dire times, when the freedom and economic self-sufficiency of the Maniots were in danger. We believe that it is essential for our area to become financially self-sufficient. Immediate goals can be an increase in the number of visitors to Mani and in the employability of our people, which will assure a better future for the next generation. To reach these goals, local politicians need to put aside their egotism and to develop a common understanding. Using a joint list of candidates for both mayor and local representatives would really help reach this common understanding and elect the best candidates as our local politicians.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD