Two Democratic delegates honored the Dukakis Center with their presence this past Monday evening at La Place Mignonne, a local watering hole in downtown Thessaloniki.
Former US Consuls General of Thessaloniki John Koenig and Alec Mally, both of whom have turned to party politics following their respective retirements from the US Foreign Service, participated in a debate/discussion on the 2016 Democratic primaries pitting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, before a lively audience of some 50 students from ACT and the Universities of Thessaloniki and Macedonia.
Dubbed "Politics at the Bistrot," a deliberate allusion to the May 2014 Dukakis Center event
"Politics at the Cafe," the main theme of the evening's proceedings was the degree to which the Democratic caucuses and primaries can be said to be democratic.
Mr Mally, representing Democrats Abroad Greece, discussed the role of DAGR in motivating US ex patriots to vote, and described the Democratic Global Primary of March 2016, in which Bernie Sanders emerged victorious over Mrs Clinton. Mr. Mally shared some of his election paraphernalia, gathered over the years, including Russian eggs of the Democrats to occupy the White House since 1960 and John F. Kennedy.
Meanwhile, Mr Koenig, joining the gathering via Skype from his home in Billington, Washington, where he is a Democratic delegate campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton, explained the nuances, complexities, and potential democratic deficiencies of the two-tiered selection process in Washington, which combines local caucuses, won earlier in the month by Mr Sanders, with a state-wide primary, which Mrs Clinton won the day following the event.
Not to be outdone, the audience attending the discussion, which included senior US residents Bill McGrew and Peter Baiter, took their own mock exit poll, designed by George Siakas of the University of Macedonia Research Institute and ACT alumnus Pantelis Rafail, of Deploy Digital, who provided technical support throughout the event. Not surprisingly, given global sentiment on the matter, Bernie Sanders was preferred by the majority of those taking the poll, by an almost 2:1 margin.
The discussion was lively throughout, and culminated in the world premiere of two animated get-out-the-vote videos produced by Dimitris Savvaidis and his team at Thessaloniki-based AddArt. The clips were commissioned by the Dukakis Center in April 2016 for the international conference
"Civic Engagement and the Practices of Democracy."
To promote the event, Mr Rafail and his company designed and carried out a social media campaign reaching over 35,000 Facebook users and increasing the Center's databse by more than 10%. Mr. Rafail also conducted a masterclass in digital deployment
to interested students and staff from ACT and the local public universities.
The Dukakis Center will organize one or more public events in the fall before the general election of November 8.