By Alper Ali Riza
There should be a prize for electorates that vote well. First prize would be shared by the US electorate of 2008 that voted Barak Obama as the first African American president, and the British electorate that voted the Labour Party to power in 1945 because the Conservatives had nothing to offer demob Britain except Winston Churchill’s record as leader during World War II. Bottom place would go to the German electorate of 1933 that voted Adolph Hitler to power who then promptly abolished democracy and went to war that caused the death and destruction of millions.
Identifying good and bad electorates and grading them can be an interesting exercise. It would be fun to see where on the spectrum people would place the Greek electorate’s choice of Syriza to manage the Greek economy or the Turkish electorate’s choice of Erdogan to reward him for spending millions on his megalomaniac’s palace. They are pathetic our motherlands and their electorates! Even democracy is not safe in their hands.
British society by contrast encourages an open and critical frame of mind in individuals who are politically mature and produce pragmatic results that match what is required, even if the outcome may sometimes not be to every one’s taste. The decision of the British electorate on May 7 to keep the Conservative government in power may grate with many people who regard the Conservatives as a nasty privileged party of ruthless upper class toffs, but it will enable them to finish the job of steering the economy from chaos to prosperity. At the same time, the discipline of the narrow overall majority the electorate allowed them will keep the extremists in their ranks in check and prevent Britain’s exodus from the European Union in the referendum due in 2017.
Moreover, the canny Scots wiped the slate clean north of the border and returned a tartan army of fifty-six to the British Parliament. Armed with the ultimate weapon of another referendum on Scottish independence, they should help keep Britain in the European Union. Scotland voted against Scottish independence in September 2014 and despite the unprecedented success of the Scottish Nationalists, another referendum would not be justified any time soon, unless of course England votes to leave the European Union against the wishes of Scotland.
Judging from the reaction of many British people, including the Queen who, according to her prime minister, purred like a pussycat when she heard that Scotland voted against independence, the prospect of losing Scotland is not a price most British people would be prepared to pay to leave the European Union.
All’s Well that ends well in Britain! The British electorate produced a good result that has kept the economy on the mend, Britain’s place in Europe secure and the Kingdom united; and this despite -not because of – the efforts of the politicians!
Three cheers for the British electorate!
But three cheers for the Turkish Cypriot electorate too! Last month they confounded the odds and caused havoc amongst the usual suspects in the rejectionist camp, when they voted in Mustafa Akinci, for whom many Greek Cypriots themselves would cast their vote, rather like the students of Cyprus’ two oldest inter communal schools did recently when they voted Turkish Cypriot students as head boy and head girl.
Mustafa Akinci won a huge majority and a clear mandate to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. After going into voluntary hibernation for a few years to think and write -always a good sign – he resurfaced recently in a spirit of public service and won a near landslide to devise an honourable compromise that would resolve the Cyprus impasse. He had previously served as mayor of Turkish Nicosia for many years, which is itself an achievement given that he is a Limassol man and Cyprus is very parochial.
By all accounts he was an excellent mayor as Lellos Demetriades, the former mayor of Greek Nicosia who worked with him closely, would testify. In his pronouncements Akinci has consistently shown himself keen to reach a compromise that protects his community and is fair to the Greek Cypriots. He is, thank God, an architect and not another lawyer! Cyprus can therefore allow herself to hope he will design a structure that is as safe, durable and beautiful as he would if he were designing a building.
Although the subject of beautiful buildings may not appeal to president Erdogan in view of the grotesque palace he built that reminds one of the megalomaniac palaces of Saddam Hussein and Nicolae Ceausescu, the beautiful building metaphor is much more appropriate than the childish mother-baby nonsense we heard from Erdogan recently. In fact the image Erdogan projects is that of an angry father rather than a caring mother. Erdogan should spare us these childish mother-baby metaphors and help Akinci design a beautiful plan for Cyprus, which the Turkish Cypriot voters are entitled to expect as grown men and women.
As an architect Akinci knows that beauty requires symmetry and balance. For this he need look no further than the first principles of his profession. The Turkish Cypriots have chosen a good man from the right profession who understands balance and symmetry and the way they impact on the sensibilities of all the people of Cyprus. Like the British electorate the Turkish Cypriots have chosen well.
Three cheers for the Turkish Cypriot electorate and three cheers for all the students of the English School and the American Academy!
Alper Ali Riza is a queen’s counsel and part time judge in England
He attended the American Academy Larnaca and the English School Nicosia from 1959 to 1967