Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

The immorality within politics and journalism in Cyprus

By Christos P. Panayiotides

QUITE often I hear the complaint that in Cyprus, people have been alienated from politics.

The underlying causes that have played a significant role in this alienation process that, surprisingly, is in full swing at a critical time for Cyprus, begin with the mentality, which prevails in politics, namely that whatever secures votes is legitimate.

The approach, which is adopted by many politicians, is to tell you what they think you want to hear even if fulfilling the promises they make is totally unfeasible. This is a matter of secondary importance to them. In reality, most politicians do not even bother to assess the feasibility of delivering on what they promise.

The same mentality prevails in journalistic circles. In which direction do we wish to push our listeners, TV viewers or readers?  Along with that we have the sensationalism. What’s selling?  Extreme weather phenomena or an accident with several fatalities? The bigger the spectacle the better.

Then there is the inclination of politicians as well as of journalists to accept ‘inducements’ in exchange for favours.  Fortunately, we have had in the recent past numerous indictments of politicians and public servants for such offences.

But have you heard any one of those who have been convicted seeking the forgiveness of society for what they had done? I do not recollect hearing anything of the sort. On the contrary, the response is generally: “I’ve given more than I’ve taken”.

Another factor is the short memories of the public at large. Few voters remember how many pre-election promises have remained unfulfilled and few voters remember how many absurd statements have been made by politicians and journalists in the past.

Then there is the deficient education system, which ultimately prevents adults from being able to critically examine the messages being transmitted by politicians and journalists and to correctly judge them.

And let’s not forget the misconceived role of the opposition, namely that its sole objective should be to support and promote the exact opposite of whatever the government is aiming for.

Despite the efforts I have exerted, I have not been able to identify instances in the history of modern Cyprus of comprehensive and realistic proposals for the solution of any serious problem being advanced by the opposition.

Another factor, which promotes the immorality of Cyprus politicians and journalists is the affection Cypriots have for money which is apparently the result of the traces of Phoenician blood that runs in our veins.

This is the basis on which ethical rules are being formulated and they are geared towards facilitating the accumulation of wealth. I do not refer to the field of commerce and industry, where the accumulation of wealth is an inherent element of the entrepreneurial process.  I refer to those rendering professional services, from public servants, to trade unionists, to religious prelates, and of course to journalists and politicians.

Possibly the most incriminating factor is the ease with which objectives are formulated and pursued without the slightest concern as to how these objectives will be attained.

Very often, politicians and journalists seek the ‘magic solution’ that will convey the impression that the problem has been solved… until it resurfaces again that is.

A typical example was the ‘thunderous no’ that was voiced in March 2013, by the elected representatives of the people of Cyprus, orchestrated by the Speaker of the House, Yiannakis Omirou.

The ‘thunderous no’ resulted in the outright rejection of the agreement reached on March 16 2013, which provided for a one-time levy on bank deposits, ranging between 6.7% and 9.9%.

The result of this thoughtless action was the total collapse of the banking system with all the tragic consequences which ensued. At that time, the politicians were joined by numerous journalists who rejoiced that that small Cyprus had at last mustered up the courage to raise its voice and impose its will on Europe.  But even before dawn, the magnitude of the folly became obvious.

Doesn’t this irresponsible behaviour denote a lack of moral standards?

Are all politicians and journalists the same? No but do not always support those who tell you what you want to hear but rather those who tell you what can be collectively achieved by society, for society’s benefit.

Tell journalists and politicians that you cannot be taken for a ride. This is the only way to eliminate immorality from politics and journalism.  Whether it can be or not is in your hands because you are the ultimate judge of their behaviour.

Christos P. Panayiotides is a retired Certified Public Accountant        



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