WHO WOULD have thought last summer when the Akel central committee anointed Stavros Malas the party’s pseudo-independent candidate for his impeccable loser credentials that by February he would have a chance of becoming the eighth president of Kyproulla?
Malas cruised into today’s run-off, comfortably defeating his main challenger, Nikolas 2018 last Sunday and setting up a showdown with Prez Nik, who finished only five percentage points ahead of him. Nik remains the hot favourite but nobody can completely rule out the possibility of an upset.
This would be another example of the comrades’ devious plans going horribly wrong. The members of the Akel leadership did not feel the party was ready for government, so soon after colossal fiasco of the Tof presidency. They chose Malas, a proven loser that had gone into voluntary political exile after 2013, as their candidate in the belief he would have no chance of winning.
All the comrades really wanted was to rally the troops by slagging off Nik in the campaign and securing a respectable share of the vote. Honourable defeat was the objective and Malas was considered the perfect candidate for achieving it. They would not have had the battle-axe Irini Charalambidou as his campaign chief if the objective was to win.
If today Malas secures fewer votes than he did last week it would be because the party ordered Akelites not to vote for him.
ANOTHER sign that the comrades are not too keen on Malas winning was the fact that they have been going out of their way to undermine his claims of independence. After Sunday’s results, leading Akelites were making statements to the media and appearing on TV shows gloating about the independent candidate’s victory.
Instead of taking a back seat and keeping a low profile in order to persuade skeptical voters that Malas’ independence was not a myth, the party apparatchiks were out in force claiming ownership of his victory and peddling their party. I can’t help thinking that the objective of the comrades was to drive away possible voters and ensure Malas lost honourably today.
PREZ NIK, meanwhile, was in a panic last week after failing to secure the 40 per cent-plus share of the vote he had hoped for and finishing only five percentage points ahead of Malas. He feared the difference of 20,000 votes could be covered, especially as the defeated in-betweener leaders would do everything they could to see him lose.
He spent most of the week procuring public expressions of support from individuals and organised groups. The Chamber of Commerce (Keve) issued a statement declaring “absolute confidence in and support for President Anastasiades,” urging voters “not to risk everything we achieved with sacrifices and hard toil.”
Keve does not usually take sides but the panicking Nik had implored it to issue the statement of support and its head honchos felt they could not ignore him. On the same day, the trade union federation Sek also voiced its support for Nik. Nik must be doing something wrong to secure the support of both the capitalist bosses and the unions.
PUBLIC support for Nik was also given by the Association of Owners of Occupied Properties, thanks to the government compensation scheme he promised, and Sykala, the organisation representing Laiki depositors.
The ball-busting bank bondholders, who had backed Nikolas 2018, in contrast, refused to take sides in the second round. Some 53 academics also signed a declaration of support.
The Cyprus Sports Federation (KOA) also got behind Nik by announcing on Thursday there was big progress in the preparations for the construction of Limassol’s new football stadium, which “thanks to the political will of the President of the Republic, we have made another step towards realising the dream of Limassolians.”
SO DESPERATE was the prez he was even procuring declarations of support from individuals. Christos Rotsas, a bash-patriotic accountant and part-time freedom-fighter, was quick to switch camps after Nikolas 2018 was excluded from the runoff, announcing he would be backing Nik.
The self-regarding Rotsas held a big cocktail party to announce to the world his staunch support for Junior in the elections. This week he announced his backing for Nik but there was no cocktail party. Why do nonentities like Rotsas feel the need to tell the world who they would be voting for? Does he have no friends to tell him nobody gives a damn who deluded, has-beens like Rotsas will vote for?
Praxoulla Antoniadou, leader of the United Democrats, the party with no members, showed she is even more deluded than Rotsas by announcing her backing for Nik because he had the “political will to soon lead talks to a settlement.” Nik must know a thing or two about the habits of birds to be able to secure the support of both the hawks and doves of the Cyprob.
ANOTHER leading rejectionist gave his personal seal of approval to Nik on Thursday after a visit to the presidential palace. Lawyer Chris Triantafyllides, who had quit as Nik’s advisor because the prez was too compromising on the Cyprob announced his “full support for his candidacy” after a meeting at the palace.
Chris T who had been lambasting Nik’s unpatriotic handling of the Cyprob and concessions to the Turks on his Twitter account for the last couple of years was persuaded at the meeting that the prez was as patriotic as him. After their chat the lawyer arrived at the conclusion that Nik, “is prepared to listen and take seriously into account, in the context of a prospective future negotiation of the Cyprus problem, positions like mine.”
What a pity there were not more days between the first Sunday vote and the runoff. If he had a few more weeks, Nik could have invited every Costis, Yiannis and Chris to the palace and promised them he would seriously take into account their positions on the Cyprob, when negotiations resumed. And as we know the prez always keeps his promises.
STAVROS Malas, in contrast, has shown that he is not a man of his word. He promised that last Wednesday he would announce the name of the person who would be finance minister if he was elected. His campaign chief Irini Charalambidou repeated this on TV last Sunday informing viewers that they would be impressed when they heard the name.
The reason Malas came up with the idiotic idea of announcing the name of the finance minister before he was elected was to reassure voters that the nightmare scenario of an Akelite running the economy had been ruled out. The only problem was that when he made this announcement, 10 days ago, he did not have anyone in mind. His Akel comrades had advised him not to make the announcement without having found someone but being an independent candidate he ignored them.
It was a mad scramble for him to find anyone. Wednesday passed and so did Thursday without any name being announced. On Friday his campaign team said that they could not give a name because the chosen one’s job contract prevented him doing a second job. It shows how little contact Malas has with the real world, thinking that any professional would publicly commit to a job that would be available only if Malas won the election.
He should have listened to his comrade backers.
JOHN HOURICAN, the Bank of Cyprus CEO, appears to have gone native and joined the campaign for Prez Nik’s re-election. There can be no other explanation for his decision to pay €23 million to cover the remaining losses of the pension fund of the bank employees that the government said it would not pay.
The biggest part of the losses, caused by the haircut of deposits in 2013, were covered by the taxpayer who paid up close to €300 million but bank workers’ union Etyk was not happy and wanted the full amount reimbursed. Initially Hourican had offered to cover the €23m on condition that Etyk agreed to an overhaul of the bank’s remuneration system. The union rejected this proposal.
Last Thursday a protest march was planned by Etyk to pressure the government to hand over the extra money. It would have been an embarrassment for the prez three days before the runoff election. He was spared this embarrassment by Hourican announcing last Tuesday the bank would cover the losses Etyk was demanding from the government and without setting any conditions.
So Hourican is backing Nik, but the Irishman did not opt for the no-cost formula of issuing a public declaration of support. Instead he paid out €23m of his shareholder’s money so that the greedy bullies of Etyk would not cause negative publicity for Nik in election week and got nothing in exchange. If I were a B of C depositor who had 50 per cent of his deposits taken by the bank I would not be very happy with the bank compensating its employees for haircut losses while giving nothing back to its customers.
ANOTHER liar was exposed by the prez, who always tells the truth, during Wednesday night’s television debate – Mustafa Akinci. After Malas mentioned that Nik had used Akel and Andros Kyprianou as an excuse to leave the Mont Pelerin talks, the prez said he had never done such a thing. He accused Malas of repeating Akinci’s version of events, which was incorrect, but if he chose to believe the Turkish Cypriot it was his problem.
The next day comrade Andros made public the minutes of the subsequent national council meeting, during which the prez said he told Akinci he wanted to leave the Mont Pelerin talks because he had problems with Akel and Andros. So who was the liar? Akinci or the person who wrote the national council minutes?
THE SAINTLY government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides also engaged in some Akinci-bashing on Thursday after the Turkish Cypriot side announced that it had withdrawn the map with territorial adjustments that it had submitted in Mont Pelerin. This was an “obvious attempt to interfere in the presidential elections,” declared the churchgoing spokesman.
Akinci was not only a liar but he was also a scheming Turk interfering in our elections. How the return of the map constituted interference in our elections the saintly Paphite failed to explain to enlighten those among us who do not have his sharp intelligence. Would it make more people vote for Malas and if so, why? I think – and I have to admit I am not as deep a thinker as the smooth-talking spokesman – it would make more people vote for Nik because the next map would include the return of Kyrenia in the territorial adjustments.
IF YOU have still not decided who to vote for here are two slogans to help you make up your mind. Vote Malas for a better yesterday. Vote for Nik so the Cyprus settlement agreement has the approval of Chris Triantafyllides.