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House leader calls on voters to ‘stand up and be counted’

House President Yiannakis Omirou

THE final day of the campaign for Sunday’s parliamentary elections had little to add, with outgoing House Speaker calling on voters to stand up and be counted, while parties took a last swing at convincing those that do show up at the polls to cast their ballot in their favour.

“Abstaining and distancing oneself from participatory democracy do not cure the pathologies of political life; on the contrary, they extend and exacerbate them,” House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, who will not seek re-election, said on Friday.

“As president of the House of Representatives over the last five years, I call on citizens to participate in Sunday’s elections. To decide the country’s democratic direction through their vote, reject graft and corruption in public life, impose transparency and social accountability, and give a strong message for a solution to our national issue that safeguards the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus.”

Ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou drove home his core argument throughout the campaign – that the party-backed government saved Cyprus from financial collapse, brought it back on a path to full recovery, and the ongoing effort should not be undermined.

“In these elections, the stakes are Cyprus’ stable prospects,” he said.

“Let us recall where Cyprus was three years ago. It was on the brink of destruction. Today, with the public’s sacrifices, we have managed to exit the bailout programme, gradually reduce unemployment, and return to growth.”

A strong DISY in parliament translates to a strong government that can conclude the work it has undertaken, he added.

At the other end of the ideological spectrum from neoliberal DISY, communist main opposition AKEL slammed President Nicos Anastasiades for taking part in the campaign in order to favour DISY.

“I am truly sorry because the president has decided to reduce the Presidency to the status of party leader,” Kyprianou said.

“Shall I assume that, at [Friday’s] televised debate [between party leaders], Mr Anastasiades will take part instead of Mr Neophytou?”

With regard to his party’s message, Kyprianou said AKEL is proud to have put together a strong ticket, and asked voters to trust the left-wing party.

“We call on the people to trust AKEL and defend the interests of the majority, and not those of the few chosen ones,” Kyprianou said.

“We ask voters to participate in the elections, because abstaining will change nothing. It will not reduce unemployment, raise wages, salvage the health and education sectors. Nor will it reduce the government’s arrogant and autocratic attitude.”

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos attacked both DISY and AKEL, suggesting they were both responsible for the country’s economic woes, and that they are in cahoots to bring back the dreaded 2004 Annan plan to solve the Cyprus problem.

“But on Sunday, rejecting DISY and AKEL for everything they have done or failed to do over the last eight years is not enough,” he said.

“We must also reject the populism of cheap promises made by protest parties. Sunday is the day we move Cyprus forward.”

Marinos Sizopoulos, who leads socialists EDEK into an election battle for the first time since taking over last year, asked for “one chance”, which he promised to vindicate.

“This is not the time to promote what separates us; it is the time to join forces for everything that unites us,” he said in uncharacteristically conciliatory tone.

The Citizens’ Alliance, also marching into its inaugural battle, continued to beat the “new versus old” drum, despite featuring several veterans of politics in its ranks.

“Voters are called on to choose between the old establishment, the culture of graft and corruption, and the modern attitudes and proposals of the Citizens’ Alliance,” leader Yiorgos Lillikas said.

“Our only ambition is to be the responsible and assertive voice for the citizens in the new parliament.”

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