THE tendency of the political parties in Cyprus to indulge – shortly after every election process – in an exercise that seeks to identify arguments that would cover up their failure to attract the votes they had targeted is legendary.
What is truly amazing is that their analysis often leads to the conclusion that all the participants in the election process were on the winning side, with nobody ever resigning, either for choosing inappropriate goals or inappropriate election tactics. Quite the opposite.
They are all declaring their intention to “carry on with their struggle”, thus provocatively ignoring the mandate of the electorate. Under circumstances that, in any other country, would have led to resignations, in Cyprus “we carry on with our struggle”, thus proving our lack of political sensitivity.
The election campaign focused on two issues that dominated the debates: the Cyprus problem and the economy.
If we ignore the minor differences in the positions of the protagonists – Anastasiades, Malas and Papadopoulos – on these two basic issues, the stand taken by Anastasiades and Malas on the Cyprus problem was similar while an analogous similarity was visible in respect of the stand taken on the economy by Anastasiades and Papadopoulos. Of course, all three candidates aimed, as one would have expected, to differentiate themselves from their opponents but the similarities referred to above were unquestionable.
Given the position of each candidate on the two basic issues that dominated the election campaign, a clear conclusion can be drawn from the election results that are reflected in the numbers.
While the votes secured by the three candidates in all the districts of Cyprus were, in relative terms, identical with Anastasiades coming first, Malas second and Papadopoulos third, the relative position of the candidates was completely overturned in the district of Paphos, where Papadopoulos clearly came on top.
The explanation of this phenomenon is, in my opinion, readily apparent. The success of Papadopoulos in Paphos must be attributed to the fact that the voters of Paphos are not in favour of the reunification of Cyprus.
They are afraid that in a reunited Cyprus they will lose the comparative economic advantages they secured from the district of Kyrenia and a substantial part of the district of Famagusta having been captured by the Turkish army and handed over to the Turkish Cypriot administration.
This conclusion is reinforced by the pre-election position taken by Papadopoulos, who declared that the first round of the presidential elections should be seen as a form of a “referendum” on the Cyprus problem.
Of course, one thing is clear. The majority of Greek Cypriot voters, approximately two thirds, are in favour of a compromise that will lead to the reunification of Cyprus while the minority, approximately one third, are against such a solution.
In practical terms, this means that the minority would not object to a loose confederation and that they are not worried that such a set-up would probably lead to the partition of Cyprus into two independent states or to the annexation of the northern part to Turkey and of the southern part to Greece.
Given the huge economic problem of the non-performing loans, which would have to be confronted fairly soon, probably with the active involvement of the European Central Bank and of other European institutions, the scope for a substantial differentiation in the way in which the economy will be managed over the next five years is, indeed, limited.
It follows that what is left is the Cyprus problem and it will be interesting to see, in the next few days, in which direction Anastasiades will move, if he does move. Will he move towards the positions held by Malas in order to recapture the votes he lost to Malas as a result of the collapse of the negotiation process or will he move towards Papadopoulos in order to attract the votes of the “rejectionists”?
Expect developments in the next two to three days.
Christos P Panayiotides is a regular contributor to the Cyprus Mail and to Alithia