By Stefanos Evripidou
THE VAST majority of the 19,000-plus new applications for membership of the DIKO party are already DIKO voters, said the party spokesman Angelos Votsis yesterday.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail, the DIKO MP said there was nothing untoward regarding the rush to register on the party’s electoral roll ahead of the party leadership elections on December 1.
“The party is turning a new page and these people who went to register want a say in the future of the party. They decided they want to choose the appropriate people not just for the party leadership, but the other organs of the party too,” he said.
The government’s coalition partner has received 19,104 applications to become registered as DIKO members recently, almost doubling the size of official members, which currently stands at 21,496.
Votsis said the mad rush to register was probably a result of the party rules stating that only those who are registered as party members two months before an internal party election are entitled to vote.
The two main contenders for the party leadership are incumbent leader Marios Garoyian and DIKO MP Nicolas Papadopoulos.
Garoyian came under open criticism from Papadopoulos for his decision to back DISY candidate and eventual winner Nicos Anastasiades in the last presidential elections.
Papadopoulos has made no secret of his support for Citizens’ Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas, a failed candidate from the February 2013 elections. Should Papadopoulos win the party leadership, questions will be raised as to whether DIKO will remain a government coalition partner.
According to sources, the majority of the new applicants for party membership are supporters of Garoyian.
To register, a person has to be recommended by two existing party members and fill in a form stating they accept the provisions of the party’s charter.
The application form is then taken to the local and district committees of the area where the applicant hails from for approval.
Membership costs €10 and must be renewed each year.
Asked what the massive wave of applications means for the party, Votsis joked: “It means we just got a lot of money.”
He added that the vast majority of applications came from DIKO voters who simply never bothered to register with the party but have now decided they want a say in the party’s future.
“We know them, they are not strangers,” he said of the 19,000-plus applicants.
“There is heightened interest in these party elections,” added the MP.
The relevant party organ must decide on the eligibility of the new applications within two weeks.