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Our View: Did Theocharous mislead her voters to keep Brussels seat?

Eleni Theocharous with House president Demetris Syllouris

A LAWYER has written to the Chief Returning Officer arguing that what MEP Eleni Theocharous has done in the parliamentary elections was unconstitutional. Whether it was or not is for the elections supremo to decide, but from an ethical standpoint her behaviour was unacceptable. She had urged people to vote for the Solidarity movement that was synonymous with her – her personal vehicle – and a day after she was elected she surrendered her seat and announced that she would remain a Member of the European Parliament. Her Limassol seat went to some unknown member of Euroko, the party that was absorbed by Solidarity.

Ironically, all three deputies representing Solidarity belonged to the now defunct Euroko and Theocharous’ voters would have a legitimate case to argue that they had been deceived by the leader of the movement. They had voted for Solidarity because of Theocharous and she knew it – most Solidarity election posters and billboards featured her picture because she was the party. The campaign was a blatant example of misleading advertising, but in politics this is not considered a violation of any rules.

Stung by the criticism of her decision in the press and social media, Theocharous disingenuously claimed that “all Solidarity voters knew” of her intention to return to the European Parliament, even though the movement had left room for a final decision after the results of the election “because we had to.” How could voters have known, when the final decision was left until after the elections? Did she contact them all personally and tell them the leader of the party would not be taking up her seat in the House of Representatives, but to vote for her anyway?

Theocharous had told a TV interviewer at the beginning of May that she would announce her decision before the elections, but never did so. This was a political scam as she took the votes of people she did not intend to represent in the Cyprus House. They could have voted for another party if they knew their leader’s main job would be in Brussels. The big question is why had she chosen the European Parliament, in which she is an inconsequential bit-player, over the Cyprus House in which she could have been a strong and influential voice, fighting against the injustices and corruption she spoke about in her campaign?

Some have cynically claimed it was because the pay is double what she would have received as a Cypriot deputy. To silence the cynics, she announced she would be donating a third of her monthly pay for the employment of out-of-work youths. This would still leave her with more cash every month than if she worked in Cyprus, but that is beside the point.

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