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Our View:  Deputies and their disregard for the rule of law

IF ON ANY given day one third of the output of a manufacturing unit was faulty, the owners would order an investigation to establish where and how things had gone wrong. First the equipment would have been checked and if that was found to have been functioning smoothly, the responsibility would fall on staff and management. No action would have necessarily been taken if this were a one-off, but if it happened repeatedly the owners would need to make drastic staff changes in order to safeguard their business.

In Cyprus, the legislature that was dissolved on April 14 had been producing (unconstitutional or in violation of EU directives) consistently and calculatingly for its five-year term, without suffering any consequences apart for reinforcing the low public regard deputies were held in. Of the 60 laws passed in the last session of parliament before its dissolution the president, on the advice of the attorney-general, referred 16 to the Supreme Court for a ruling on their constitutionality and vetoed two, sending them back to legislature.

In other words, almost a third of the laws were deemed suspect, prompting the attorney-general to accuse deputies of “sloppiness and lack of responsibility”. What was scandalous was that the deputies knowingly approved laws that were obviously unconstitutional to anyone capable of a little rational thought. In fact during that final session, one deputy had declared a bill unconstitutional and then voted for it.

And this mentality is still evident among deputies. AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loucaides criticised President Anastasiades for referring the laws to the Supreme Court, arguing that he should have done nothing because “these laws seek to serve social causes or ease the burden on large groups of the population that have suffered injustices.” This absurd attitude stems from the traditional disregard of deputies for the rule of law and the belief that they are above the constitution and can decide when it should be respected and when not. Such attitudes are a threat to our democracy and people that show such contempt for the constitution are unfit to be lawmakers.

Unfortunately, we cannot sack lawmakers that knowingly produce faulty laws showing total disregard for the constitution. It could be said that the people could vote the inept deputies out in next month’s elections and vote in more knowledgeable and more responsible candidates, who would make sound laws. Things are not so simple. The problem does not lie with individual deputies, but with the political parties and their respective leaderships that invariably call the shots and, sadly, would be prepared to scrap the constitution altogether if they thought this would win them a few more votes or, as Loucaides said, “serve social causes.”

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