MOST OF the political cliches uttered by President Anastasiades, after Sunday’s election victory, had the theme of unity. Not only did he send a “message of unity”, but he also assured that he would carry on being the “president of all Cypriots”, and extended a hand of cooperation to everyone because “there are no ideological colours”. The use of cliches is bad enough, but meaningless ones are even worse.
If he had been living abroad in the last 30 years, he could be excused for having a rose-tinted view of Cyprus politics, but he has been involved in Cyprus politics all his adult life and was the president for the last five years. How much unity was there in those five years? The reform programme agreed with the troika was threatened with derailment on several occasions because of this lack of unity; the foreclosures law was made toothless by the opposition parties with the result that NPLs remain alarmingly high. Even when the very funding from international lenders depended on unity there was none.
Reforms agreed with the troika, such as the overhaul of the civil service, the rationalising of local government and privatisation of Cyta and the EAC were blocked by the opposition parties because they were ideologically against it. Should we also mention the Cyprus peace process, when the centre parties did everything in their power to scupper a deal, accusing Anastasiades at every opportunity of selling out to the Turkish side, downgrading the Republic and so on?
All the newspaper editorials on Monday were waxing lyrical about this unity that never existed. Phileleftheros said that the president “must always be a unifier, consensual and operate above party and ideological lines.” Really? He should also undertake “initiatives for consensus and collectiveness”, it editorialised. With which parties will he build consensus and collectiveness? With Akel the positions of which are always ideologically coloured and back the most unreasonable union demands? Or with populist centre parties whose proposed economic policies are guaranteed to bankrupt the state? As for the Cyprus peace process – assuming Anastasiades wants it resumed – will he build consensus with parties that oppose bi-zonal, bi-communal federation?
If the people wanted Papadopoulos and his rejectionist backers to handle the Cyprus problem, they would have voted for him, but he only received 25 per cent of the vote. There can be no unity and collectiveness with these people if Anastasiades has any intention of agreeing a Cyprus deal. And if the people wanted Akel to determine economic policy, they would have voted for Stavros Malas on Sunday. They did not. They voted for Anastasiades to implement his policies and not for government by multi-party committee in the name of unity.
What the country needs is a president that offers leadership, not a unifier or someone wasting his time trying to build consensus.