DISY LEADER Averof Neophytou has finally decided to submit for discussion at the legislature the idea of the raising of the threshold for entry into parliament. He proposed that a party would have to secure more than 5 per cent of the vote to win a seat in the House, defending his proposal by saying this was the practice in most EU member states.
The second largest party, AKEL, also seems to support the idea of a higher threshold even though both parties have denied there had been any consultation. AKEL is said to favour a 4 per cent minimum. The backing of the idea by the two big parties would have sounded alarm bells at the smaller parties such as the Greens, EDEK and Citizens Alliance which could face the possibility of not winning a seat in May’s elections.
With an electoral strength of about 2 per cent (the current threshold is 1.8 per cent), the Greens and EVROKO would be certain to be excluded, while for the Alliance it would be touch and go. Meanwhile a success for the Alliance could be at the expense of EDEK, with which it is competing directly for votes. Under normal circumstances, the socialists would secure about 6 per cent of the vote but in the last parliamentary elections the Alliance did not exist.
Threatened smaller parties will be arguing that DISY’s proposal is undemocratic and an attempt to eliminate pluralism by increasing the dominance of the two big parties. On the other hand, the 1.8 threshold allows one-man parties like the Greens that have a very small following to enter parliament and sit on the National Council. As Neophytou pointed out on Wednesday, at the last elections held, only 240,000 people voted which meant, under the existing threshold, 3,500 votes would be enough to secure a seat in parliament. Democracy would not suffer if a party representing three or four thousand votes did not have a say.
The answer would be for all the small parties – EVROKO, EDEK, Greens, Alliance – to become a single party and have a real chance of winning seats. They have no ideological differences. They all support populist policies and they all embrace the exact same hard line on the Cyprus problem, opposing a federal settlement. As one party they will certainly win parliamentary seats in May, even though there would be on drawback as there would only be one leader and the four would never agree who this would be.