Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Street demonstrations: an undemocratic form of expressing one’s views.

By Christos P. Panayiotides

IN THE last edition, just published, of the official journal of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (SELK) – the official body in Cyprus that is authorised by law to license the persons who practice the profession of an accountant-auditor – and, in general, to set the rules governing the profession and to secure compliance, I read an interesting article.

The article is signed by Dr. Ioannis Violaris. The pictorial illustrations include a photograph of four clenched fists and two fingers in the V mode.  The journal, published in English (I guess to ensure that it is accessible by people beyond the frontiers of Cyprus), is called “Accountancy Cyprus”.

Admittedly, the journal contains a short statement to the effect that the Institute does not accept responsibility for the content of the specific articles published and that the positions and comments reflected in such articles are not necessarily those adopted by the Council of the Institute.

The above introduction I have deemed necessary prior to stating that when I first read the article published in the journal, under the title ‘Why do Cypriots fail to protest in the streets and the consequences of this failure’, I could not believe my eyes.

The author, after expressing his disappointment because, in Cyprus, we do not see the street protests which are so typical of Greece, Spain and Portugal, states that the phenomenon noted is rooted in the ‘peasant mentality’ that exemplifies most Cypriots.

The author then concludes that this behaviour has serious negative consequences. More specifically, it allows the Troika and others to incorrectly conclude that those affected by the measures taken to put the economy back on track are in agreement with and consent to such measures.

The author adds that this behaviour is “very dangerous” because, among other things, it has facilitated the enactment of a series of laws that “allow the banks to get hold of people’s properties”.

Because I consider myself as a transparent person, I feel obliged to state that I view the street demonstrations advocated by the author of the article as one of the most undemocratic forms of expressing one’s views.

In such street demonstrations, a handful of people, who rarely exceed 100 and always represent a small fraction of society, attempt to blackmail the rest of us by causing havoc and disruption and, occasionally, by causing bodily harm to innocent bystanders. Very often, street demonstrations lead to extensive damage being caused to public property. Who has to foot the bill for repairing the damage? The taxpayers! Thus, instead of channelling funds to projects that could help alleviate the economic problems the demonstrators claim they are protesting against, the limited available funds are wasted to repair the damage caused by the demonstrators!

If you have the time, try to construct a makeshift index between the frequency of street demonstrations and the economic backwardness of the country in which the demonstrations are held. You will be surprised by the high correlation between the two.

You may say that this does not prove anything because it is the economic suffering that leads to the demonstrations and not the other way round. Have you ever considered the possibility that what is causing the economic backwardness of a country is the mentality of its people, who would take it to the streets rather than use their brainpower to solve the problems that are bothering them?

What did surprise me was to see the official publication of the Cyprus Institute of Certified Public Accountants being used as a forum for advocating street demonstrations. I genuinely wonder what else we are going to hear, what else we are going to see.

Christos Panayiotides is a retired Certified Accountant 





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