THE MAIN election slogan of the Nicolas Papadopoulos camp is ‘change’. A banal statement of the obvious, which is also used by the other candidates, although not as frequently. Of course, there will be ‘change’ if the incumbent loses the presidential elections, but will it be for the better? There is no guarantee that a ‘change’ of president would improve things, given the calibre of candidates. In fact, this much-vaunted ‘change’ could lead to a turn for the worse.
For now, candidates can only be judged on their campaign behaviour, and that of Papadopoulos would suggest that the change he professes would move us backwards rather than forwards. His intimidation tactics, the calculated distortion of his opponents’ positions and scare-mongering are reminiscent of the crude campaigning practices of the eighties when the Diko founder Spyros Kyprianou was in his element. Papadopoulos’ campaigning is a throwback to the eighties indicating that so would a government led by him. It would certainly be a ‘change’.
These antiquated tactics were evident in Papadopoulos’ public row with health minister Giorgos Pamboridis whom he accused of promising insurance companies that he would push for a multi-insurance national health scheme (Gesy). He also said that he had the minister on tape making the promise. Pamboridis challenged him to produce the tape, also questioning whether the Diko leader had obtained it legally. It was an example of the way Papadopoulos tried to discredit the government with misleading information. Even if Pamboridis had spoken about a multi-insurance scheme, the fact is that the government is now working on a single-payer scheme.
Do words, allegedly spoken at some point in the past, have more weight than actions? They obviously do for a party that embraces antiquated political practices. Even the claim that Pamboridis was on tape is reminiscent of the ‘anything goes’ electoral practices of the past, designed to discredit opponents by debiting them with ‘unacceptable views.’ Presenting certain views as ‘unacceptable’ encourages the dogmatism and intolerance that blighted public life for many years.
The minister may have expressed a certain opinion in the past, but his actions since, prove that he has been won over to another view. It is perfectly legitimate and only the bullies of Diko, who have made a habit of attacking people for their views, seem to disagree. During the presidency of Papadopoulos’ father, anyone that supported the Annan plan was labelled a traitor and an agent of foreign interests. The Nicolas 2018 campaign wants to revive this attitude of intolerance, in order to bring about ‘change.’