It has not taken very long for cracks to appear in Akel’s electoral pact with the so-called independent presidential candidate Stavros Malas. The independent incurred the wrath of his backers earlier this week after he applauded the appearance of two Greek F16 fighters at Sunday’s military parade, like the rest of his rivals.
This, however, was not Akel’s position. The following day party spokesman Stefanos Stefanou accused the president of militarising the Cyprus problem in the run-up to the presidential elections. Malas had said, “I welcome the arrival of the Greek planes,” not realising that this was a blatant case of militarisation of the Cyprus problem that the backers of his independent candidacy did not approve of.
He patched things up eventually, saying he welcomed the ‘ceremonial’ part of the parade, reminding us that he spoke about the need ‘to create a unified shield of peace between the two countries’, – whatever that means – as the Cyprus problem could only be solved by peaceful means. Perhaps more was made of the issue than it deserved by the media, but it was also an indication of how difficult it will be to maintain the myth about the independent candidacy.
People have a chuckle whenever there is mention of Malas as an independent. He is nothing of the sort. He was a member of the Akel government and stood as the party’s candidate in the last elections when the party could not find anyone else to defend the disastrous Christofias presidency. It went back to him again this year after an attempt to find an ‘independent’ candidate fell through; the person found was a bit too independent – he was a free market champion – for the comrades’ liking so they opted for tried and trusted Malas.
What is difficult to understand is why Akel and Malas are so keen to maintain this pretence of independence which, justifiably, nobody believes. In fact, it is counter-productive because it is certain to alienate potential voters, who will feel they were being deceived, especially after the debacle with Mike Spanos, who was ruled out by the party as soon as he displayed signs of being independent. A little honesty about their alliance would have served Malas and Akel much better in the elections as it would have eliminated the chuckles and ironic remarks every time there was mention of the independent candidate. More importantly, voters would not feel that Malas was trying to fool them.
The propaganda principle that if you repeat a lie often enough, people would believe it, does not apply to all situations.