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J.D.B. News Letter

August 10, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(By our Salonica correspondent)

The Jews of Salonica will not abstain from voting at the forthcoming Greek election, on August 19, in protest against their segregation in a separate Jewish Electoral College, as they did in 1923. They will take part in the elections, although a separate Jewish electoral college has been set up, all Jewish intervention against it being without avail.

They are taking this course of action bearing in mind what happened in 1923, when only about twenty votes were cast and as a result such persons who had stood as candidates in the face of indignant public opinion were declared elected, Voting at this election is moreover compulsory and voters under the age of sixty absent without valid reason are liable to a fine of 25 to 2,000 drachmes.

At the last elections, there were fourteen Jewish candidates, two Zionists, two Mizrachi, two Communists. At that time, proportional representation was in force. The votes of the Zionists and of the Conservatives having been scattered, two Communists were elected. Now, however, the campaign will probably be more concentrated, the number of Jewish seats having been reduced to only two, on the basis of the latest census, which shows a Hellenic Jewish population of 48,000,(foreign Jews, who number about 3,000, naturally have no vote.)

The restoration of the majority system reduces the chances of independent candidates. For that reason it is likely that no more than six candidates will now stand for election, two Zionists, two professionals and two Communists. At present the Zionists and professionals are carrying on negotiations with a view to nominating a single candidate on each ticket, while the Communists are considering running one Jewish and one non-Jewish candidate.

M. Venizelos, who received a delegation composed of Elie Bennsiglio, David Matalon, David Florentin and Isaac Amariglio, the Board of the Jewish community, while rejecting their demand on behalf of the Jewish population for a withdrawal of the separate Jewish electoral college, showed himself most conciliatory and took the opportunity of making a lengthy declaration of friendship towards the Jewish population.

He had always shown himself well disposed, he said, toward the Jews of Salonica, whose activity and spirit of initiative he appreciated. All reasonable demands submitted to him by the Jewish community of Salonica had been examined with sympathy, and he had granted them wherever he had found it possible.

The separate Jewish electoral college did not represent an act of hostility towards the Jews, he said. On the contrary, it favored the Jews, since it guarantees their representation in Parliament. “In the last elections,” he said, “when the proportional representation system was in force, you constituted a Jewish Union and elected your Deputies. At present, with the majority system, you risk being left without representation in the Chamber. Having granted separate electoral colleges to the Turkish minority, I thought that I ought to do the same for your minority, and you must not therefore conclude that I am hostile to you.”

Mr. Dvid Florentin said that the Jews of Salonica are unanimous in rejecting the separate electoral college. and regard it as an infringement of their political rights. M. Venizelos replied that he would suppress it on the morrow after the election if the Jews desire it, but it could not be done forthwith. He said that he was disposed to afford all reasonable facilities to the Jews.

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