Nikolas Papadopoulos wasted little time in dealing with his party’s dissidents. The day after the presidential election was over, Diko’s disciplinary council was convened to decide what measures to take against 22 party members that openly undermined Papadopoulos’ presidential candidacy. Twelve, including former party leader Marios Garoyian and former MEP Antigone Papadopoulou were expelled on Monday, while the remaining cases would have been dealt with last evening.
The 22 were accused of violating the party charter, while Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades put it more bluntly, saying the 12 “betrayed the party.” Papadopoulos was entitled to feel betrayed by party members that mobilised support against him, with Garoyian speaking at gatherings in Limassol and Nicosia a few days before the elections lambasting the Diko candidate’s ‘new strategy’ on the Cyprus problem. His intentions were clear – he wanted to harm Papadopoulos’ candidacy by turning Diko voters against him. Whether he will be rewarded for this act of treachery against his party leader by President Anastasiades remains to be seen.
While the behaviour of Garoyian and his followers was reprehensible, Papadopoulos has not come out of this affair smelling of roses. He not only illustrated his vindictiveness but also showed an eagerness to find someone to blame for the abject failure of his candidacy and promote the idea that he had no responsibility for what happened. In a way, he was true to the long Diko tradition of always blaming others for its own failings and mistakes. Former party leaders, for instance, always blamed their blunders or fear of taking responsibility in the Cyprus talks on foreigners.
And now, Papadopoulos has decided to blame his poor election showing, which was the result of a terrible campaign, on a small band of disgruntled party members. The Garoyian group was created by Papadopoulos’ divisive leadership and his decision to side-line the party’s old guard, whom he treated like pariahs. He should not have been surprised that they eventually turned against him, using what influence they had in the party to undermine his candidacy. That he expected this group to loyally support him, despite his disdainful treatment of them, was an indication of his political immaturity and lack of leadership skills.
Expelled member Ms Papadopoulou said his aim was “the humiliation of Diko’s senior officials and their extermination in view of the party’s upcoming election conference.” Having expelled Garoyian, the only man that could have mounted a challenge to his leadership, Papadopoulos might have seen off a threat to his position but, at the same time, he has raised big questions about his ability to lead a party.