An old spat between Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous and University of Cyprus professor Stavros Zenios was rekindled on Sunday, after the MEP justified her decision to forego claiming the seat she won in the Cyprus parliament in favour of her European parliament seat because she “can’t trust” her successor.
Last November, Theocharous left ruling party DISY but stayed on as MEP, where she was elected on the party’s ticket. At the time, she had argued that many of the votes she had received had been “personal”, and that the runner-up – Zenios – had diametrically opposing views on the Cyprus problem, and thus surrendering her seat to him would be a betrayal of the voters’ stated preference.
Theocharous had also claimed that passing her seat to a person who received one-fifth of the votes she got would be a distortion of democracy.
This time, Solidarity’s leader came under fire for breaking a campaign pledge ahead of last week’s parliamentary elections, to let the voters know in advance whether she would be leaving the Europarliament if elected to the Cyprus parliament.
Among the arguments she gave in response to the criticism was that she could not leave her seat in Brussels because she “can’t trust” her replacement, prompting Zenios to upload a scathing response on his personal blog.
His opening salvo was an excerpt from a radio interview Theocharous gave a month before the election, in which she assured the host that “her” voters would be informed of her decisions regarding the Brussels seat ahead of the election.
“The voters will know my decisions before the elections,” she had said.
“We will not deceive.”
But linking the timely disclosure of her decisions with deceit proved rather unfortunate, because the voters were informed of her decision to stay as MEP a day after the election.
“She chose to justify her decision to stay in the Europarliament by saying that ‘she doesn’t trust the person that will replace her’ (meaning me),” Zenios wrote.
“I don’t understand why she insists on defining herself by referencing me.”
Zenios continued with a blow to Theocharous’ much-touted work in the European parliament, noting that she ranks 722nd among 749, according to www.mepranking.eu.
“Whether she trusts me or not is none of my concern,” he said.
“But I am especially pained that the Cypriot public is swayed by fiery rhetoric and carefully planned photo-ops.”
He then went on to address the “one-fifth of the votes” argument Theocharous had first deployed against him, turning it on its head.
“We don’t surrender our seat in the Europarliament when we abandon the party that got us there because the runner-up got ‘not even one-fifth of my preference votes’, but we don’t bat an eyelid in sending to the Cypriot parliament the first runner-up, who got exactly one-fifth the votes,” Zenios charged.
He was referring to Yiorgos Papadopoulos who ran on the Solidarity ticket and is to take Theocharous’ place as MP in the parliament.
Zenios reminded Theocharous that he was in any case about to take to a two-year scholarship to the US.