By Constantinos Psilides
DIKO leader Marios Garoyian said that after the Sunday leadership elections, he is ready to bury the hatchet and leave past differences behind so he can work with challenger Nicolas Papadopoulos for a better future for the party.
Asked what the next day will be like for the Democratic Party (DIKO), Garoyian told the Cyprus Mail that he wants to create a climate of party unity. “I’d like to believe that certain tactics and behaviours that created rifts in the party and undermined our credibility now belong to the past. I’m even willing to forgive and forget accusations that insulted my integrity and character”, the DIKO president said.
The main point of dispute between the two opponents this week has been Garoyians’ refusal to take part in a televised debate, proposed by the Papadopoulos camp. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Papadopoulos expressed his disappointment, saying that his opponent “is depriving DIKO voters of the chance to compare and decide who is more suitable to lead the party”. Papadopoulos accused Garoyian of insulting him and publicly using derogatory language when referring to him.
Asked why he rejected a public debate, Garoyian said that he declined for the good of the party.
“A democratic dialogue will, of course, provide DIKO members with a chance to be better informed. In the past few months there has been an ongoing process to inform party members on the candidates’ positions. Mr. Papadopoulos preferred to be absent from that process and instead opted to attack me publicly. Under those circumstance there can’t be a meaningful dialogue between us now”, the DIKO leader told the Cyprus Mail.
A major point of contention between the two candidates was voter registration. According to DIKO MP Fitos Constantinou, over 19,000 new applications for party membership were received in the last months. The new applications almost doubled the party membership. According to Constantinou, DIKO had 21,496 members before the new applications.
In a press conference yesterday, the party’s central committee said that 38,605 members will vote on Sunday.
Papadopoulos accused Garoyian of boosting the party ranks with people whose only reason of signing up with DIKO is to vote for him in the election. He also said he had asked for access to the central party registry which was denied.
Papadopoulos has appealed to core members to “not let strangers take over the party”.
Garoyian said that he denied direct access to the central registry because that will violate privacy and personal data laws.
“We wanted to make sure that all candidates have a fair chance so we proposed that all sides prepare a note that would be sent to all party members. Mr Papadopoulos declined that offer, obviously so he can continue playing the victim.”
Despite Garoyian’s hopes for calm the next day of the elections, the war between the two camps rages on. In a statement released yesterday, he accused Papadopoulos of “neo-liberal ideas” asking him to clarify his stance on the privatisation of public companies. Earlier in the day, Garoyian came out against privatisations of public companies, expressing the opinion that the 1.4 bn euros needed by the troika of lenders can be found elsewhere.
The Garoyian camp also accused Papadopoulos supporters of voter intimidation, claiming that supporters received threatening calls from people asking them to vote for Papadopoulos.
The Papadopoulos campaign team issued an announcement late yesterday accusing Garoyian of trying to belittle their candidate on “unfounded arguments and outdated choice of words” reminiscent of former president Demetris Christofias’ statements back when Garoyian supported him.
The support group said they were sure DIKO members would entrust Papadopoulos, whose positions on the economy and the Cyprus problem have been vindicated, they said.