16 October, 2006
Greeks and registered European Union nationals cast their ballots in local elections around the country on Sunday with most of the country's 9,820,875 registered voters due to turn out between sunrise and sunset. The findings of exit polls were expected early in the evening.
"All preliminary work and preparations have been completed for municipal, community and prefectural elections to be held," Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced a day earlier.
In Greece, voting in elections is compulsory with exemptions under the law including the elderly over 70 years of age, and people residing more than 200 kilometers from the area in which they are registered to vote.
On the electoral list are 4,743,553 men, or 48.3% of the total; and 5,077,322 women, representing 51.7%. Youth aged 18 this year and voting for the first time account for 0.17% of voters.
A special register of European citizens eligible to vote contains 8,921 people, mostly from the United Kingdom (2,984), followed by Germany (1,823), Cyprus (768), Italy (684), Poland (604) and the Netherlands (490). Lowest in the ranking are Malta and Slovenia with one voter.
More than 18,000 police have been assigned from Saturday to guard the country's 24,710 balloting centers, which open at 0700 hours and close at 1900 hours.
Country's leaders vote in local polls: The head of state and the country's political leaders cast their ballot in local elections on Sunday, mostly out of the capital.
The president of the republic, Karolos Papoulias, voted in the northwestern town of Ioannina, saying he hoped the best candidates would win in the borough, community and prefectural polls.
Speaking in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stated that the government had set a priority on solving the problems of local communities, avoiding political polarization and acerbity.
"The major winner to emerge in these elections should be local government," the premier told reporters when he placed his ballot.
George Papandreou, leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement, said while voting in the north Athens suburb of Nea Erythrea that Sunday's vote would send a double message - on local government and to all politicians.
Source: Athens News Agency