By George Psyllides
Ruling DISY on Wednesday proposed raising the electoral threshold to 5 per cent, prompting the reaction of smaller parties.
Party leader Averof Neophytou said the proposal could be submitted as early as Thursday.
The issue had been mooted around six months ago when DISY proposed several amendments to the electoral law, including raising the threshold, and holding parliamentary and local elections, which fall on the same year, at the same time.
Discussion did not yield any results at the time and according to Neophytou, the party “decided to make a move, submitting a proposal to parliament raising the electoral threshold to 5 per cent” from the current 1.79 per cent.
Speaking on state radio on Wednesday morning, Neophytou said there had not been any agreement with any other party so far.
“This is the position of the Democratic Rally. We will submit it to parliament possibly tomorrow and ask for the discussion in the relevant committee to be expedited,” he said. “This matter is being discussed for some 20 years now.”
The island’s other big party, AKEL, stressed that there had not been any consultation with DISY. Its leader, Andros Kyprianou, said the party would study the proposal and then make its decision.
Having AKEL on board would mean certain approval of the proposal since together, the two parties have 39 MPs – DISY 20 – in the 56-seat parliament.
Passing the amendment would almost surely mean the exclusion of the Green Party in May’s elections. The party received 2.2 per cent of the vote in the previous election.
Chairman and only MP Giorgos Perdikis reacted fiercely, describing the move as “political immorality.”
Perdikis said his party opposed the suggestion since it violated a rule that all parties and governments had respected: not to change the threshold a few months before the poll.
“With this move, Mr. Averof even eliminates the morsels of ethical standards left in the political game,” Perdikis said.
He added that if the DISY chief insisted in having his proposal discussed, then his party would demand discussing cross voting at the same time.
“Instead of talking about the serious problems the country and the people face, we are discussing politicians’ shenanigans and trickery on who will pull the other one’s drawers down,” Perdikis said.
DIKO, which garnered around 18 per cent of the vote in 2011, said such proposals could not be submitted and discussed a few months before the elections. DIKO chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos said there had not been any agreement with his party to raise the threshold.
EDEK chief Marinos Sizopoulos suggested that all the scheming aimed at silencing differing voices from the political scene by wiping out smaller parties.
Sizopoulos accused DISY and AKEL of backstage dealings over the matter.
“Despite not being affected and concerned by the change in the electoral law, we will not accept machinations,” he said. EDEK won 8.9 per cent of the vote in 2011 under the leadership of Yiannakis Omirou.
The Citizens Alliance, which did not exist as such in 2011, said raising the bar would benefit them, but as a matter of principle they considered it unacceptable and provocative.
Spokesman Yiannis Tsangarides said society needed more transparency and democracy and those who sought to change the threshold only wanted to keep their chairs and power through trickery.
The party was founded by former minister Giorgos Lillikas and had no representation in parliament until European Party (EVROKO) MP Nicos Koutsou defected.
EVROKO currently has one MP, Demetris Syllouris. The party received 3.9 per cent of the vote in 2011.
Tsangarides said no benefits would arise by changing the threshold and extremist parties like ELAM will not be affected.
“Racist or chauvinist or other extreme movements are not created, nor do they thrive because of the electoral threshold,” he said. “They have their roots in economic and social destitution, unemployment, the shortfalls of the political system, the inadequacy of the state mechanism etc.”
Those are the aspects that should be addressed instead of making them look like heroes under persecution.