By Constantinos Psillides
SOCIALIST party EDEK and the Greens announced on Wednesday that they would no longer take part in the regular bi-communal meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties held at the Ledra Palace.
EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou justified the decision saying there “is no reason to take part in the meetings since the Turkish Cypriot parties insist on not condemning the ongoing violation of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.”
EDEK and the Greens were absent from the last meeting on October 22 , when all parties present –AKEL, DISY and EDH from the Greek Cypriot side – almost agreed to a joint declaration calling Turkey to withdraw its ships from the Cyprus EEZ so that President Anastasiades could return to the negotiating table.
The declaration was derailed at the last minute by the Turkish Cypriot National Unity Party (UBP) but never the less the intention was there.
EDEK and the Greens decision to boycott future meetings has less to do with standing on principle against Turkey’s violation of the EEZ and more with cementing their place in the rejectionist bloc, together with DIKO and EVROKO.
While the Greens are merely moving along the path they were always on, EDEK’s stance is more puzzling. Being a self-proclaimed socialist party, one would expect that EDEK would relish the opportunity to snatch communist AKEL disgruntled voters, who – following the Christofias administration- were disillusioned and in search for a new ideological roof. People who identify themselves as leftists and progressives would jump at the opportunity of supporting a truly socialist party, bolstering EDEK’s ever thinning ranks.
Instead of moving to the left, Omirou opted to steer the party to the right where the field is already crowded. Right-wing voters have ample options, ranging from the ruling DISY to extreme right-wing ELAM. And square in the middle there is DIKO, the country’s centre-right party and refuge of all rejectionists.
What is EDEK hoping to gain from this move? What’s their target demographic? Right-wing socialists? Do we even have those?
And it’s not like EDEK doesn’t have proof of the shortcomings of this particular strategy. Since the 2004 referendum the party has been moving steadily to the right, hand-in-hand with DIKO most of the time. In the 2006 parliamentary elections EDEK got 8.91 per cent of the vote with a slight increase of 0.2 per cent in the 2011 elections.
Rejectionist parties EVROKO and DIKO suffered a great blow in that election, losing a combined 4 per cent. The lion’s share of that percentage went to DISY (3.76 per cent) proving that even when the other parties in their bloc lose, EDEK doesn’t gain anything of significance.
EDEK has everything to gain by moving to the left and nothing to gain by moving to the right. Not doing so can mean only one of two things: either EDEK pushed the self-destruct button or the party has long since lost its socialist identity.