THE APOSTASY of deputies could deal fatal blows to democracy. Possibly, only very few would have realised that if there were one state that fell victim to apostates, it is none other than Cyprus.
Yes, we Cypriots are the victims of the apostasy of 1965 in Greece, when a few members of parliament defected from Enosis Kentrou, the party of George Papandreou (1888-1968), diminishing public order in the process. The consequences of this apostasy were cataclysmic for Cyprus because between 1965 and ’67 the ground was prepared for the military coup by which the junta took power. Let us just look at the sequence of historic events: the Turkish invasion was sparked by the July 15 military coup, which was ordered by Brigadier Ioannides who was the product of the Papadopoulos dictatorship, which came into being in 1967 as a result of the apostasy of 1965.
In Cyprus the most serious case of apostasy is that of DIKO deputy Zacharias Koulias who in 2011, completely disregarding his party, voted for the then EDEK chief Yiannakis Omirou as president of the House instead of the leader of his own party, Marios Garoyian. What should be driven into the mind of Koulias, and every prospective apostate, is that people (the overwhelming majority at least) do not vote for them because they are enchanted by their charm but for the principles of the party they represent. If Koulias stood for election as an independent, he would not just be crushed, he would be obliterated and this explains his haste to return to DIKO.
Of course it is fair for a deputy to disagree with the policy of his party, as long as he resigns and surrenders his parliamentary seat to his party. This is the only honourable course in such cases.
The incident with Koulias in 2011 developed into comedy-farce and constituted an insult not only to his party but to the suffering Cypriot people. DIKO had reacted as any other party in Europe would have done, expelling Koulias, whom it dismissed as a “traitor, an apostate with deficient political ethics”.
In giving the reasoning for its decision, DIKO said “in no democratic country in the world and in no polity based on popular sovereignty, political morality and ethics that ensures respect for institutions, can apostasy find political, legal or moral backing.” This position was unprecedented, historic, renaissance-like and revitalising. Well done to DIKO. But despite the fact that in 2011 DIKO sent Koulias to Kingdom come, the DIKO of 2016 has been transformed from the fiery persecutor of Koulias to the Pool of Siloam from which the “traitor, apostate, immoral” Koulias emerges perfectly pure, innocent, immaculate and secures his re-entry into the party without conditions to stand as a parliamentary candidate in May’s elections.
This schizophrenic behaviour of DIKO is probably down to some mega-rusfeti, which should not surprise given that DIKO has always been the Leviathan of rusfeti, protecting all the world’s rusfeti practitioners regardless of the monstrosities they have committed, as long as they promote the high interests of the party.
Koulias’ reaction to DIKO’s decision to expel him in 2011 revealed his contempt for democratic conventions. His first pompous statement – “I do not recognise Marios Garoyian as leader of DIKO” – contains elements of party indiscipline, intolerance, Bonapartism and arrogance. There’s is no issue of whether Koulias recognises Mr A or Mr B as the leader of the party because the leader is elected by the party and every deputy is obliged to respect its decision. Nobody has assigned Koulias the responsibility of deciding on recognition and non-recognition.
And what can one say about his other statement at the time? “They want to take the flag from me. I will keep the flag and send them the flag-pole.” Koulias, with his phallic innuendo, shows that he not only disrespects his colleagues that disagree with him but also insults them with ‘diplomatic’ tact.
How can the offended deputies now be by Koulias’ side and everything smell of roses? How can the DIKO leadership offend thousands of its supporters by including Koulias’ name on its election ticket? These questions explain, to an extent at least, why so many leading DIKO members will not be standing in May’s elections.
In finishing, I would like to refer to what the former US President Ronald Reagan said in an interview with CNN, giving the impression that he could have based his thinking on Cyprus’ experience. He told CNN: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist