THERE will be a record number of candidates – 494 – standing in this month’s parliamentary election contesting 56 seats. On average, there are about nine candidates for each parliamentary seat, with a total of 12 parties or groupings being represented. Of these only five had contested the 2011 elections, the rest being established subsequently. We also saw a host of independent candidates some whom have been standing for years, happy to waste the €500 registration fee for bit of attention.
It is no bad thing there are many independent candidates that see the elections as an opportunity for a little fun, for having a laugh, as they know their odds of being elected are about the same as for a snow in July in Ayia Napa. Having a few candidates that do not take themselves too seriously comes as welcome light relief in a dull campaign dominated by the self-important, who make ludicrous claims about raising the standard of political life, showing patriotic responsibility and other such platitudes. As for the exchange of accusations, between the parties, the less said the better.
Despite a surfeit of newspaper articles claiming the lack of credibility of politicians and parties in the eyes of the public, there are a record number of people, who still want to become deputies. Is this not a paradox? Why would so many want to join a discredited profession, knowing that they would be held in low regard by their fellow citizens and newspaper journalists? Is it just for the high salary and attractive benefits?
While more people than ever before want to become deputies fewer than ever before are expected to go to the polling stations. There are already fears, based on opinion polls that a record number of people would not bother to vote. Some 20,000 youths of those that turned 18 since the European parliament elections in 2014 have not even bothered to register to vote, according to the government. This is an indication of changing values and interests.
People today are less interested in politics than they used to be, something that does not go down well with the party leaders who fear voter apathy could have a negative effect on their election showing. AKEL’s Andros Kyprianou made an impassioned plea yesterday that “everyone should participate in these elections and everyone must make their choices, as every vote can make the difference.” We shall know on May 22 how seriously voters take Kyprianou’s argument about making a difference.