By Elias Hazou
The two rival ‘camps’ within DIKO are taking to the newspapers and social media online to air their differences, in what appear to be mock dogfights in a thus far muted power struggle.
The latest round was kicked off on Sunday, when the local press ran an opinion piece penned by former DIKO leader Marios Garoyian.
In it, Garoyian attacked the party’s current leadership primarily for its extremist views on the Cyprus issue.
“The real DIKO is not the [hawkish] howls and cries that we hear today,” wrote Garoyian.
“The symptoms displayed by DIKO’s current disease have been caused by a very recent virus. A virus which surely the DIKO people will not allow to cause irreparable damage to their party.”
An unmistakable attack on the leadership of Nicholas Papadopoulos, the item immediately drew fire from the ruling camp.
Papadopoulos aides scrambled onto twitter to shoot Garoyian down.
Chrysis Pantelides, Papadopoulos’ right-hand man, went for the jugular.
“Bro, if you ever learn how to lose, you might actually win something,” he posted.
It’s understood he was alluding to Garoyian’s narrow defeat in the last DIKO elections, in late 2013 where, defying predictions, Papadopoulos assumed the mantle.
Pantelides came back with another tweet, suggesting Garoyian was looking for a job and that he was “sucking up” to President Anastasiades by presenting himself as dovish on the Cyprus problem.
“I was not at all surprised. Do not blame the man. He wrote the article when the post of health minister was still vacant. He really wanted it,” Pantelides jibed.
DIKO’s alternate spokesman Athos Antoniades meanwhile took to sarcasm, tweeting: “Dead man walking….bla…bla.”
Others accused Garoyian of bending with the wind, adjusting his views according to the political exigencies of the day.
In the March 2013 presidential elections, Garoyian steered his party into openly backing Anastasiades’ candidacy. In exchange for the support, Anastasiades made a number of pledges, such as that if elected he would discard the Christofias-Talat convergences and would seek the National Council’s endorsement for any major move in the peace talks.
Papadopoulos was unhappy with the decision of his party to support Anastasiades. In fact, he resigned his position as vice-chairman of DIKO during the election campaign and repeatedly expressed his disapproval of the way DISY handled the Cyprus problem in the past.
Garoyian’s critics point out that Anastasiades has not held up his end of the bargain.
But weighing in on Garoyian’s side, DIKO MP Athina Kyriakidou lashed out at the current party leadership.
On her Facebook page, she wrote: “Inside DIKO, views are dictated by personal ambitions. Why all this war [against the current peace process]? What are they afraid of? What alternatives do they propose, and how will they achieve it?
“I want suggestions, alternative proposals that are feasible, otherwise it’s all populist rhetoric, period,” she posted.
It’s rumoured that Garoyian, still an MP with DIKO, is mulling breaking away and forming his own party. Assuming this has any credence, his criticism of the party leadership may be a case of testing the waters.
Cracks within the centrist party have emerged from time to time, demonstrated for example in parliament, where on occasion DIKO MPs did not present a united front during votes on key items of legislation.
In the 2011 legislative elections, DIKO garnered 15.76 per cent of the popular vote, but polls suggest that the support base has shrunk further since.
Under Papadopoulos’ watch, the party has re-pivoted to a hard-line posture on the Cyprus peace talks, whereas Garoyian and others are seen as the ‘moderate’ faction.