By Angelos Anastasiou
DESPITE the unsuccessful bid for a seat at the European Parliament, the Citizens’ Alliance has earned the “people’s trust and a spot on the National Council,” its head Giorgos Lillikas said.
A seat at the National Council has been on Lillikas’ agenda since last summer, when he first broached the issue after his newly-formed party saw MP Nicos Koutsou, voted into the House with EVROKO, join its ranks. As a parliamentary party, the Alliance demanded what it considered its rightful place at the table, only to be snubbed by the body itself, which unanimously denied the request.
Explaining the decision, then-government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the group did not meet the minimum criteria – namely, official registration as a party and previous participation in a parliamentary election, with at least one successful candidate.
As an unofficial body that serves only an advisory role, the composition and governing rules of the National Council are at the sole discretion of the President. But traditionally, the body has consisted of all parliamentary party heads – with a deputy each – as well as, ex officio, all former presidents of the republic.
But the Alliance refused to give up, and asked the Attorney General’s office to weigh in. The AG said the Citizens’ Alliance qualified all ‘party’ criteria, so in April they met with President Nicos Anastasiades in order to reiterate their demand.
A source that was in the meeting said Anastasiades proposed that a decision on this request be deferred until after last Sunday’s election, drawing puzzled looks from the Citizens’ Alliance delegates, who asked what would change after the election.
“You get a decent result and we’ll talk then,” Anastasiades allegedly replied. Although no hard figure was given, this cryptic comment was taken to suggest that ‘decent’ meant parliament-entry level.
This is what prompted Lillikas’ remark on joining the advisory body. Though it failed to secure an MEP spot, the Alliance won 6.78 per cent of the popular vote, well above the 1.79 per cent threshold that earns parties a national parliamentary seat.
Alliance spokesman Alexandros Michaelides confirmed the party’s view that its exclusion from the National Council had been unjustified, but echoed Lillikas’ confidence.
“This President campaigned on the promise of unity but has been singing a different tune after his election,” he said. “There had been absolutely no justification as to why we should have been excluded from the National Council, but DISY and AKEL led the ‘no’ charge.”
“That is why the Citizens’ Alliance has proposed that the National Council be redesigned, and its operation legislated,” he said.
Late yesterday it emerged that Lillikas had been invited to attend the next scheduled meeting of political party heads, paving the way for his party’s full representation in the National Council.
ELAM is also after a seat at the table. It’s leader Christos Christou told Sigma TV he would be contacting the president today also asking for a seat on the National Council. “We got 2.7 per cent which would be enough to elect an MP, so we should be given a seat on the National Council,” said Christou, adding that he was asking for the same treatment as the Citizen’s Alliance.