By Constantinos Psillides
IN AN election with no shortage of candidates, a record 61 people have come forward to have a go at becoming a member of the European Parliament (MEP), with a list of names to suit all ideological and social flavours, as bizarre as some may be.
The far-right group ELAM, that has identified itself with the extremist Golden Dawn in Greece, was the first of the non-parliamentary groups to present its candidates that include Marios Vasileiou, a hotel owner from Paphos, party spokesman Geadis Geadi, Despina Kasapi, Panagiotis Kleovoulou, Charalambos Mesaritis and Michalakis Michael, a taxi driver from Pafos.
Next, was the newly created “Message of Hope” platform with economist Stelios Platis at the top of the list, followed by university professor Giorgos Gregoriou, dean of science at the University of Nicosia Marios Evridiadis, Natalie Ioannou, clinical psychologist Vasilis Christodolou and TV personality psychiatrist Yiangos Mikellides.
Another newcomer group was also there. The Animal Party of Cyprus that was only set up two weeks ago, that is taking part with only three candidates: party founder and leader Kyriakos Kyriakou, Angela Agathangelou and Georgia-Elina Zoi. Kyriakou told the press that his party is campaigning for promotion of animal welfare.
DRASIS-Eylem (Action) is taking part in the elections with six candidates, including two Turkish Cypriots. The group’s leader is Dinos Ayiomamitis, Costis Achniotis, Stavros Tombazos, Marilena Payiatsou, Alev Tugberkt and Deniz Birinci. Birinci, who at the age of 34 is one of the youngest candidates to take part in the election, sent a message of hope and friendship speaking in both Greek and Turkish.
Birinci wasn’t the only one from the family to have filed a candidacy. Her father’s twin brother, Mehmet Birinci is also a candidate along with Ozman Zorba, representing the Turkish Cypriot socialist party KSP. Asked why he was running with a different party, Birinci said, “we may be brothers but we have different opinions”.
Then came one of the best known Turkish Cypriot candidates, Sener Levent, the chief editor and publisher of “Afrika” newspaper. Levent told the press that he is not a Turkish Cypriot candidate but a candidate for all Cypriots. His candidacy was sponsored by Andreas Paraschos, the chief editor of weekly newspaper “Kathimerini”.
Among the other independent was Andreas Evstratiou, a wedding dress designer who regularly takes part in elections. A father of 8, Evstratiou holds a Guinness World Record for the longest wedding dress train, believed to be 1362 metres long. He used the Guinness Records logo when he ran for president in 2013, which resulted in thousands of ballots being scrapped due to copyright infringement. Evstratiou ended up paying €20,000 to cover cost of reprinting the ballot papers.
A controversial is Michalis Mina, a towering, well-built man who was hostile towards the local media, demanding to be asked questions instead of making a short statement. Mina went off on a rant objecting to opinion polls and said an unnamed newspaper publisher had denied him exposure.
Loukas Stavrou’s statement sounded more like a wartime announcement, similar in tone to those made by Russian controversial politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Stavrou has a detailed plan for the future of the country, campaigning for a military union with Greece, renting out a military base to Russia and arresting the politicians responsible for the 2004 referendum on charges of high treason. Stavrou was a founding member of ELAM and a party candidate in 2009, but had a falling out and left them.
Andreas Ioannou has pledged to give 70 per cent of his MEP’s salary to poor families. Although his statement had a “Robin Hood” feel to it, Ioannou mostly resembled a cowboy, opting to wear stirrups on his boots.
Then came one the unluckiest candidates. Thedoulos Theodoulou left the island after the Turkish invasion and settled in Greece, where he stayed until the financial crisis. Wanting a better future, Theodoulou left his home of almost 40 years and returned Cyprus. But the financial crisis followed him to his new home and Theodoulou had to go through Troika imposed austerity measures twice.
Andreas Christoforou broke new ground in Cypriot elections, being the first candidate to openly campaign for legalising medical marijuana. Christoforou argued that cannabis oil and other by-products are used to soothe the pain of people suffering from a wide range of illnesses, including cancer.
Last, but not least, was Kyriakos Kyriakou, better known as ‘Outopos’ or even “The Terminator”. Outopos, who takes his name from the concept of creating a Utopian state, is a recurrent figure in Cypriot elections. Sporting his signature bandana, Outopos told the press that he will lose the elections once more, due to corrupt practices by “parties and mainstream media”.
This is his ninth attempt, but often picks up several hundred protest votes. In the past, he accused the Election Commission of fraud, referring to President Nicos Anastasiades as the “third illegal president of the Cypriot Republic”. He once again filed his candidacy displaying the plans for his Utopia, a city in which everyone is equal, money don’t exist and sexual relations are abundant.