Akel on Monday tried raising the stakes in an otherwise tame election campaign, seeking to fire up the party faithful with new attacks on President Nicos Anastasiades and Diko candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos.
The communist party, which is backing ‘independent’ Stavros Malas, dubbed Anastasiades untrustworthy following the collapse of the Cyprus reunification talks last year.
“He placed his personal ambitions above all else,” said Akel leader Andros Kyprianou.
And whereas the Anastasiades administration is waxing lyrical about the economic recovery, a third of the population is on the poverty threshold while the labour market has been deregulated.
On Papadopoulos, Kyprianou said no reasonable person believes that he will genuinely endeavour to solve the Cyprus problem when some of the parties behind him – such as socialists Edek – have rejected the bizonal, bicommunal federation as the model for a settlement.
“Messrs Anastasiades and Papadopoulos may be departing from different starting points on the Cyprus issue, but objectively speaking their policies overlap on the same point: the status quo and the slide toward partition.”
Meanwhile over the weekend Anastasiades apologised to women for not appointing enough of them in his government, promising to set things right should he win a second term.
The incumbent sought to turn on the charm over the weekend while addressing a gathering of Godisy, the women’s wing of the ruling Disy party.
After extolling his administration’s achievements, Anastasiades apologised for the absence of women in his cabinet, save for labour minister Zeta Emilianidou.
“I pledge – but I do not commit – that women shall be present in the next cabinet,” he added.
In using the phrase “I do not commit,” Anastasiades was deliberately and sarcastically throwing the sound byte back at his detractors.
During the 2013 presidential campaign, Anastasiades had “committed” to not bringing a haircut on deposits should he be elected president.
It has since become a meme among his critics, who have often deployed it to assail his credibility.
Despite the absence of women in the cabinet, Anastasiades pointed out that around 27 per cent of the members of boards of semi-governmental organisations are women.
And 58 per cent of commissioners are female, he added.
Photos from the event depicted Anastasiades surrounded by Godisy members as he mixed with the crowd after his speech.
Apparently the adulation got to Disy chief Averof Neophytou.
“After standing beside Nicos Anastasiades for 32 years, I can honestly tell you that I was never envious of him.
“But today I became jealous of the great love that he received from the women,” Neophytou said, tongue-in-cheek.
Both Anastasiades and Neophytou again came under fire from the campaign team of Papadopoulos.
In a statement, Papadopoulos accused them of obfuscating the truth about the March 2013 haircut on uninsured savings.
“They seek to deceive the people, blaming the haircut on parliament, a haircut which they themselves imposed.
“It is in vain. No matter how many interviews Anastasiades and Neophytou give, there is only one truth: in March 2013 Mr Anastasiades sent to parliament a proposal that was void, when he proposed a haircut on deposits under €100,000, in breach of an agreement within the Eurogroup that insured deposits should be left untouched.”
It added: “It is sad that, five years on, Anastasiades and his chief of staff [Neophytou] insist on their myth and refuse to answer the question posed by the people: Why did Mr Anastasiades propose a haircut on the deposits under €100,000 of Cypriots? Whom did he want to serve?”
The first round of the presidential elections will take place on January 28, with the run-off ballot scheduled for February 4.
Polls consistently predict that Anastasiades will comfortably win a second term in office.
On Monday the Chief Returning Officer said all measures are in place to ensure transparent and unimpeachable elections.
Voters are advised to make sure their voting ballot (white colour) is duly sealed, and are urged to report any attempt at influencing them while at the polling booth.
Blind people or persons with a disability may vote on their own if they so declare to the officer in charge at the polling booth.
Alternatively, they may request assistance from an elections officer or any other person they so designate.