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Roma thinking big on politics
Kathimerini, http://www.ekathimerini.com, April 28, 2006



The first political party representing the Roma, or Gypsy, community in Greece will take its case to the European Commission in about two weeks, according to the party’s unofficial spokesman.

Christos Lambrou, who represents the ASPIDA party, told Kathimerini yesterday that party officials would discuss the problems facing Roma in Greece with representatives of Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

ASPIDA is the first political party of its type in Europe. It was formed in January, when its leaders claimed that the party could garner support from 600,000 people — twice as many as those who voted for the Communist Party in the last general election. Some 200,000 Roma are estimated to be living in Greece.

Lambrou said ASPIDA will be represented in upcoming local elections this October in at least a couple of municipalities. He said the party was trying to produce politicians that were “less wooden and not so trapped in glass bubbles.” The Roma party has made it clear that it does not want to affiliate itself with a particular strand of politics. It has chosen, for example, a logo which includes the colors of the three main parties in Greece.

However, Lambrou said that for tactical reasons, ASPIDA was examining the possibility of working with one of the two main parties — New Democracy or PASOK — during the local elections.

“Gypsies are a pool of voters who each time move as they see fit, based on non-political criteria,” said Lambrou.

Roma politicians have signed up with the main parties but Lambrou said they were picked based on “who was most suitable for the parties... Therefore they did not represent the Roma.”
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