By Constantinos Psillides
A RECORD number of 61 candidates filed their candidacies on Friday, contesting one of the six seats allocated to Cyprus in the upcoming European parliament elections, scheduled to take place on May 25.
In all, 53 candidates from ten parties or groupings, and eight independents submitted their applications, having already paid the €1,000 fee and proven a clean police record.
The process went smoothly with television stations providing live coverage from 9am to 1pm, by which time when Elections Commissioner Constantinos Nicolaides wrapped up the ceremony up and announced the final number of candidates. The 24-hour period to raise objections ends at noon today.
This election also boasts the largest number of voters ever taking part with around 607,000 people registered, although voter interest is at an all time low and abstention is estimated to reach around 45 per cent.
Five Turkish Cypriots filed their candidacies, two of them belonging to the first bi-communal platform, DRASIS-Eylem (Action).
Voters have a wide variety of candidates to choose from, ranging from the mainstream politicians to animal activists, far-right groups, some who still want a union with Greece and a candidate who is campaigning to legalise medical marijuana.
Candidates from the ruling party DISY were the first to arrive, introducing incumbent MEP Eleni Theocharous, former government spokesman Christos Stylianides, MP Lefteris Christoforou, political activist Rena Hoplarou, former University of Cyprus rector Stavros Zeniou and EVROKO leader Dimitris Sillouris. Unlike the previous euro elections, EVROKO is now cooperating with DISY.
Presenting the candidates, party leader Averof Neofytou said that Cyprus’s future lies with the EU, adding that the coming elections mark the beginning of a time of change. “Together we work for the changes Cyprus needs. All together, to build a better Cyprus,” he said.
Opposition AKEL candidates followed, lead by former MP and former party spokesman Stavros Evagorou, former interior minister Neoklis Silikiotis, incumbent Euro MP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Vera Polycarpou, Charis Polycarpou and Panicos Stavrinides.
Presenting the candidates, party leader Andros Kyprianou said that abstention is not a solution, calling voters to go to the polls and make their voice heard. “If people are displeased with European fiscal policies and austerity measures then they should participate in the election, to support those who are opposing policies that have led to the worldwide economic crisis,” he said.
DIKO was the third party to show up. Their candidates are Constantinos Aristidou, Giorgos Georgiou, Androula Eleftheriou, Costas Mavrides, Yiannis Panagiotou and incumbent MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou. DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said that his party will fight for a Europe of solidarity and social growth that cares for people and not numbers.
EDEK and the Greens are cooperating on a joint ticket, with four candidates coming from the socialist party and the other two from the Greens. Stavros Yiallourides, party spokesman Dimitris Papadakis, Makis Roussis and incumbent MEP Sofoclis Sofocleous are the EDEK candidates, while MP Giorgos Perdikis and party spokesperson Eleni Chrysostomou are the Green candidates.
The Citizen’s Alliance was the last of the parliamentary parties to arrive or the ceremony held at the Hilton. Led by party leader Giorgos Lillikas, who was a candidate in the 2013 presidential elections, the rest of the Alliance candidates are Andreas Apostolou, Irene Mantole, Aleksandros Michaelides, actor Koullis Nicolaou and Simos Angelides, son of former DIKO MP Andreas Angelides.
Economist Stelios Platis is also taking part in the elections, at the head of a team of technocrats, including TV celebrity and psychiatrist Yiangos Mikellides.