Tales from Crete | 33
So the election has been called, not only in Denmark, but also in Greece, where, however, it is municipal elections that are due to be held on 26 May 2019.
I have experienced several elections in Crete and there is now not much difference between an election in Denmark and an election in Crete. In essence, it's just as confusing and the election promises swirl in the air leading up to the election from all sides and are just as quickly forgotten again as soon as the voting is over.
A number of years ago I actually stood for the municipal elections in Denmark myself, but was not elected, and it was probably just as well. I don't think that I personally have the patience needed to sit on a city council, and without a doubt would easily be on a collision course with most people, because I don't buy into my positions. Right on that point, I have probably also acquired a little too much Greek mentality, some will probably think.
For the Cretans, the municipal election is very important, because it is about the immediate area and about their own island, which they would clearly prefer to see detached from the rest of Greece. For generations, the Cretans have been a pawn for the dominions of many nationalities, but have also proven time and time again that they can easily fend for themselves. They are simply not very good at conforming to other people's rules and regulations, because it goes against their perception of independence. But even though a municipal election is in many ways similar to a Danish election, the municipal election in Crete has at least as much importance as a general election in Denmark, and the incumbent mayors in Crete have over the last several weeks done what they could to woo the voters in every imaginable way ways. But the election promises are just as big before the election in Crete as they are in Denmark and are also forgotten just as quickly by the politicians. A small example is that for the past 20 years there has been talk of straightening a small road in Agia Marina. It is so narrow that 2 cars can only pass exactly and it is completely impossible when there are parked cars on one side or the other. As I said, it has been discussed for many years whether the road should be straightened or not. Of course, it has also been discussed that a parking ban should be introduced, but what would that help. After all, everyone parks wherever there is space and no one obeys parking signs for good reason. When I was in Crete last week with a group, we had to park our small minibus in Chania. There was good signage stating that it was a payment area and that you could redeem a ticket in the ticket machines set up. But when people didn't pay anyway, they had decided to drop the payment but not remove the signage, with the result that people who needed to park like ourselves, desperately went from one parking meter to another, only to find that none of them worked because the coin slot was closed. A politically easy solution to a problem you can't do much about anyway. The small road in Agia Marina is still not one-way and there is still parking where there is space. That is why there has been a lot of talk about the fact that the straightening now after 20 years could become something, because today there are significantly more cars and traffic now than there were when the issue was first brought up. Now, however, the problem has changed character. The mayor has agreed that the road should be realigned, but that everyone who owns property on the road must agree on which way the realignment should be. Now that's a problem, because you can't agree on that at all.
The Cretan sense of independence is subtle and often difficult to fathom.
Here at the beginning of the year, when heavy rainfall and meltwater from the mountains washed away roads and bridges in several places, all of this had to be re-established before the big tourist season started. But this kind of thing is expensive and the money has to come from the state to a certain extent. But like everything else, this kind of thing likes to wait, so a mayor took a quick decision when residents of an area that had been isolated complained and wanted their primary access to the village back. The mayor was unable to obtain the necessary funds for labour, but on the other hand had all the materials lying on the municipality's site. So to make everyone adapt, he told the citizens from the village that they could perhaps come to "borrow" the materials from the municipality's square after dark, and then establish access to the city themselves. And voila – the next day the road was re-established.
Whether it is politically correct or not is not for me to decide, but at least it is an easy and very Greek solution.