By Constantinos Psillides
THE SECOND round of DIKO elections were took place on Sunday night, with former Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou staging a political comeback, after being elected as deputy chairman.
DIKO leader, Nicolas Papadopoulos, said to the press that a new day had dawned for the party, “as everyone, united, will work to deal with the huge challenges we are now facing”.
Kyprianou won over fellow candidates Costa Mavrides, Giorgos Constantinou, Giannis Ioannou and European parliament member Antigoni Papadopoulou. The newly-elected deputy head got 5,882 votes while Mavrides and Papadopoulou got 5,442 and 4,889 votes respectively.
“I want to assure everyone that DIKO is turning a page. I want to thank the people of DIKO for honouring me with their vote, proving once more that DIKO is indeed the democratic party,” Kyprianou said in his victory speech.
Kyprianou was ostracised from Cyprus politics after he stood trial in connection with the Mari naval base blast on July 2011, which resulted in the death of 13 people. Kyprianou was serving as the foreign minister for the Christofias administration and was among those who were blamed for actions leading to the blast. He was acquitted of all charges.
Another former Christofias minister was also a winner in Sunday’s elections, as Christos Patsalides (former minister of health and interior) is now DIKO’s vice chairman with 10,739 votes. Patsalides defeated Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas (6,342 votes), Giannis Armeftis (1,039 votes) and Constantinos Panagi (244 votes).
Marinos Mousioutas won the election for general secretary with 6,928 votes, defeating former Nicosia deputy mayor Stelios Ieronimides, Nestoras Nestoros and former CyBC chairman Themis Themistokleous.
On Monday morning the vote counting continued. At 1:00 p.m. DIKO announced the 15 names of those elected to the executive office, the higher body in the party. Among them was Christiana Erotokritou, spokeswoman for DIKO, Costas Mavrides who had previously lost the race to be elected deputy head and Energy Minister Giannos Lakkotripis.
District committee presidents were also elected, with the most important being that of Nicosia where CyTA union boss Alecos Tryfonides got elected. Tryfonides’ election could be problematic for Papadopoulos, as the union man strongly opposes any privatisation of semi governmental organisations, which is the centrepiece of the coalition government economic policy.
But Tryfonides is unlikely to be the only obstacle Papadopoulos has to face in the near future.
When Papadopoulos ran in DIKO’s leadership last December he beat incumbent leader Marios Garoyian by a close margin with just 51 per cent of the vote.
Sunday’s election was to decide whether Papadopoulos’ position in the party leadership would be cemented.
In true DIKO fashion, the party was split into two yet again. With the exception of Mousioutas, the so called “Papadopoulos camp” did not win any electoral battles when it came to party posts but dominated the election for members of the executive office.
Marcos Kyprianou is still the “wild card”. Before the Mari blast, Kyprianou was considered the front runner for the leadership of the party his father (former president Spyros Kyprianou) founded and even a strong candidate for the presidency.
The next step for DIKO is a decisive one. Papadopoulos threatened to dissolve the coalition if president Anastasiades signs off on the joint communiqué for the talks but he would need the full backing of his party to do so.