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Narrowest of victories for Papadopoulos

Razor thin victory for Papadopoulos

By Poly Pantelides and Stefanos Evripidou

NICOLAS Papadopoulos has won party elections for the leadership of coalition party DIKO, beating outgoing Marios Garoyian by a mere 546 votes, amid objections by Garoyian’s team over the voting procedure.

A total of 24,734 from the 38,000-plus eligible DIKO members voted on Sunday with Papadopoulos receiving 12,460 votes (51.12 per cent) compared with 11,914 votes for Garoyian (48.88 per cent). The whole process itself was completed at about 2am on Monday after the Nicosia district votes were counted.

Garoyian’s campaign crew have questioned the electoral result, claiming that roughly 400 DIKO members were not included in the party’s registrar and were not allowed to vote.

Garoyian, who remains a DIKO MP, said that although he disagreed with the result, he was still a “DIKO soldier” and as such would continue acting according to his duty.

Papadopoulos said that it was time to forget what was said during the electoral campaign, and extended overtures of “friendship and collaboration” to Garoyian.

“There are more things keeping us together than pulling us apart,” Papadopoulos said.

The leadership vote in Paphos was particularly hotly contested.

The leadership vote in Paphos was particularly hotly contested.

The members’ register was handed over to the commission on Sunday morning, head of DIKO’s Paphos electoral commission Antonis Antoniou said.

He added that between 60 or 70 people had showed up in Paphos to vote, under the wrong impression they were registered members.

Some 203 Paphos applications were also rejected in the run-up to elections because the applicants were registered with other parties, and represented them in an official capacity such as in community councils, Antoniou said.

Ruling party DISY does not have a majority in Parliament, needing DIKO support to implement Cyprus’ bailout obligations, which include controversial plans to collect €1.4 billion by privatising semi-government organisations, a move hotly contested by main opposition AKEL.

Papadopoulos had publicly disagreed with Garoyian’s decision to support Anastasiades during the February 2013 presidential elections, even showing up at election rallies for the EDEK-backed candidate, Giorgos Lillikas.

In the run-up to the DIKO elections, analysts had suggested a victory for Garoyian could result in a split of the party, with Papadopoulos supporters departing and teaming up with like-minded folk from EDEK, the Greens and Lillikas’ Citizens Alliance. The resulting victory of Papadopoulos, however, will have put any such thoughts to bed.

The new DIKO leader is also seen as having a more hardline approach to the Cyprus problem than his predecessor. Papadopoulos was extremely critical of what he called the “generous concessions” made by former president Demetris Christofias in the peace talks during his five-year term.

It is widely understood that Papadopoulos’ father, former DIKO leader and president Tassos Papadopoulos, played a significant role in getting DIKO to support Christofias’ presidential bid over DISY’s Ioannis Kasoulides in the 2008 elections, effectively winning the election for the communist AKEL.

Fast forward to 2013 and the new DIKO leader now finds himself in a coalition with DISY and EVROKO.

Collaboration on economic issues, at least, will not be so challenging for the coalition as Papadopoulos has often found himself on the same page with DISY leader Averof Neophytou on key economic matters discussed in parliament.

The head of Papadopoulos’ election campaign, Chrysis Pantelides, told the Cyprus News Agency Sunday’s election was not a referendum on whether DIKO would remain in government or not.

“As long as President Anastasiades keeps his obligations towards DIKO, then DIKO and its president Nicolas Papadopoulos are morally, politically, and nationally obliged to support the government,” Pantelides said.

Pantelides further ruled out any talk of replacing DIKO ministers in cabinet at this stage.

He did not rule out a return of former DIKO members who were kicked out by Garoyian, such as independent MP Zacharias Koulias, though any decision would have to be taken by the party’s collective organs “when the time comes”.

“With Nicolas Papadopoulos at DIKO, the entry doors open and the exit doors close,” he said.

The party is expected to hold a new round of elections after Christmas to decide on the remaining positions in the party leadership.

 

 

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