By Stefanos Evripidou
THE NEWLY-formed movement of failed presidential candidate Giorgos Lillikas is looking for a seat at the National Council after former EVROKO MP Nicos Koutsou joined their ranks.
Speaking to the state broadcaster yesterday, Lillikas said now they have an MP representing their interests in parliament, it was up to President Nicos Anastasiades to decide whether they could also have a seat at the National Council, the top advisory body to the president on the Cyprus problem.
“From our view, when the president said these are critical times and we need the shoulders of all to lift the burden, we said we are ready to help lift the burden and contribute within our powers the struggle of the Cypriot people,” he said.
Last month, 60 members of the European Party (EVROKO) announced their departure from the party citing party leader Demetris Syllouris’ support for Anastasiades in the recent presidential elections as the main reason.
Among those leaving were MP Nicos Koutsou, the party’s general-secretary, Stelios Americanos and member of the political committee, Eleni Vrahimi.
According to Americanos, around 80 per cent of the party’s elected municipal councillors and the majority of the party’s active members had decided to leave.
He said that the main reason for the exodus was that they disagreed with Syllouris decision to support Anastasiades during the presidential elections.
Syllouris had come under intense pressure to back the independent candidacy of former foreign minister Lillikas, who had already garnered the support of EDEK.
Lillikas was initially being considered to stand as a common candidate for the country’s small-to-medium-sized parties (DIKO, EDEK, EVROKO and the Greens) but DIKO’s decision to back DISY’s Anastasiades left the potential alliance in tatters.
Come the February elections, the Greens called its members to vote by conscience, EVROKO’s Syllouris went with Anastasiades but at the cost of splitting his party, while EDEK stuck with Lillikas.
The subsequent mass defection in EVROKO left the party with only one MP in parliament, Syllouris, who some say saw the fault lines moving in his party and chose not to abandon his parliamentary seat for a position in the new cabinet.
After losing out in the first round of the elections, Lillikas formed the Citizens’ Alliance. With the addition of Koutsou and a significant portion of EVROKO, the new movement could now claim its interests in parliament are represented by at least one MP.
“This enlargement will continue, you can be sure of that,” said Lillikas yesterday, adding, “And I have no doubt we will see in the future more additions from all ideological quarters and non-aligned citizens”.
The Citizens’ Alliance will be holding an assembly to discuss its charter this Saturday.
Lillikas said it was only logical that Koutsou would represent the Alliance’s interests in parliament, adding that the same could be said for the ten municipal councillors registered as members of the Alliance.
Lillikas noted that if the Alliance’s members agree, the movement will participate in next May’s European Parliament elections.
Asked if independent MP Zacharias Koulias would officially be joining the ranks, he said: “I think this is an issue for the MPs themselves to decide and announce.”
Koulias, a former DIKO MP, is probably waiting to see how the DIKO internal elections go near the end of this year before choosing which colours to wear.
Koulias and DIKO MP Nicolas Papadopoulos were keen supporters of Lillikas’ candidacy during the election campaign, despite DIKO’s official backing of Anastasiades. Papadopoulos has made no secret of his desire to secure the party leadership in the elections. A failure to do so could see another split in parliament, this time within DIKO.