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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Syllouris’ political orgasm

Demetris Syllouris, the unexpected victor

EVERY customer of our Coffeeshop who visited on Thursday and Friday felt duty-bound to complain about the election of Demetris Syllouris to the House presidency, all of them belittling him and saying he was not good enough for such a venerated post.

But of the five candidates for the post who would have been better? The self-righteous and arrogant Dr Sizopoulos who believes he is God’s gift to politics, the moralistic populist and tree-hugger Perdikis or the dull and boring communist loser Andros Kyprianou? Only Averof would have been a better choice, but nobody likes him because of his neo-liberal tendencies.

It is not as if there were ever any great tradition of the House presidency going to an intellectual heavyweight with political gravitas and moral integrity. This is an extinct species in recent legislatures. We only have to recall the last four presidents of the House – Spy Kyp, Tof (for seven years), Garoyian, Omirou – to prove that any moaning about Syllouris’ election is totally unjustified.

I challenge the anti-Syllourians to give one reason why the new House president is any worse than his four predecessors? That is not possible and the reality is that Syllouris was ideally suited to continue the proud tradition developed by his illustrious predecessors of having power without any responsibility.

And I am sure he will handle the high social, political status of his position and cope very well with being chauffeured around in a state limo, having a dozen police guards catering for his every need, being brown-nosed by people and sitting in the front row for state occasions. If Tof could do this competently for seven years, anyone can.

THERE were other positives from Syllouris’ election. It pissed off EDEK, AKEL, DIKO, the Alliance and more than anyone Eleni Theocharous, who had set up the Solidarity Movement as a personal vehicle for political ascent and saw Syllouris hijacking it and using it for his own personal aggrandisement. I came close to almost feeling sorry for her.

It prevented the insufferably arrogant Botox expert from becoming House president and acting even more arrogantly. It also cut short Ethnarch Junior’s gloating about DIKO’s good showing in the elections. Junior, posing as the leader of so-called centre parties, which on the Cyprob are as extremist as ELAM, had proposed Dr Sizo for the House presidency before even consulting his fellow extremists of the centre – Lillikas, Perdikis, Theocharous – just to show them who is calling the shots. His failure to get his man elected was a blow to his leadership credentials and claim of being the centre’s presidential candidate in the next elections.

The other positive is that we will have a House president who wears a tie. Sizo has adopted Alexis Tsipras style of no tie and we couldn’t have the House president of Kyproulla going to official occasions in a suit and open neck shirt. It could have led to the downgrading of the Republic.

THE QUESTION nobody has been able to answer is why Prez Nik was so keen on electing the former Eurocock leader and pressured DISY to vote for him?

The Eurococks had backed him in the presidential elections and got a ministry for it which their appointee still holds, but in the House Syllouris had consistently voted against the memorandum bills and often criticised the government. Was he rewarding the blatant lack of loyalty?

This rubbishes the newspaper claims that Nik did this to increase the pro-government deputies in the legislature and help pass government bills. Syllouris has proved the government cannot rely on him, as for the other two Solidarity deputies, despite being Eurococks, Theocharous would not sit idly and allow them to back Nik’s bills.

Even if Nik secured the support of Theocharous’ boys it would still not give him a majority in the legislature, so there must be another reason for his championing of the DISY dissident.
My theory, which I submit with a note of caution as I have been unable to substantiate it, is that Nik was doing a favour to Antenna TV’s supreme boss, my good friend, Loukis P. Loukis hails from the same village as Syllouris – Potamia – and has always looked out for him. I would not be surprised if he urged Nik to help get his ‘horkanos’ (fellow-villager) elected as it would make all Potamia proud.

Nik, being the smooth wheeler-dealer that he is, was happy to oblige as he would ingratiate himself with a TV mogul and be guaranteed positive coverage on the most popular TV station.

SYLLOURIS should be grateful to his horkanos, but he should build an altar to Dr Theocharous in his front garden and hang her picture in the House president’s office because she was his saviour. At the end of last year, he was worried because he had no chance of being elected as a Eurocock or a Eurohen and was telling friends he had no job to go to.

Dr Eleni was his deus ex machina. She took the Eurococks into her party, got him elected, then returned to her seat in the European Parliament, leaving him with another two deputies to negotiate his rise to the second most senior post in the state hierarchy. Without her, he would have been jobless, begging Nik for some government post.

THE SORE losers of EDEK had a more sinister theory in which they identified a threat to national security. EDEK spokeswoman Maria Panayiotou commenting on the reports that Syllouris had threatened to give Solidarity’s three votes to Sizo if DISY did not back him she said:
“It is particularly alarming that DISY’s top officials admitted that Syllouris’ candidacy was backed as a result of blackmail. It raises a serious question: if it gives in to blackmail on such simple matters, how likely is it that it would not give in to blackmail on a much larger scale, regarding issues of the economy and the Cyprus problem?”

Ms Panayiotou should relax – DISY gives in to blackmail only when the alternative is Dr Sizo.

IT WAS impressive that none of the newspapers used their favourite headline word – thriller – to describe the week-long party horse-trading that preceded the election for House president. The clichés used were much more imaginative.

Phil, who had the horse-trading as its lead story every day started with the banner headline “Hard poker for presidency” on Monday, used the prosaic “Rehearsal for consensus,” on Wednesday and came up with a gem on Thursday – “Russian roulette at legislature”.

The headline writer obviously did not know the meaning of “Russian roulette”. Would Sizo, Syllou, Andros, Perdikis and Averof take turns putting a revolver to their head and pulling the trigger until just one of them was left alive to become House president? Perhaps in the next parliament the House president would be chosen by this method, as it would ensure there would be fewer candidates for the post.

The idiots at CyBC TV did even better than Phil. On the lunchtime news show, which was discussing the election, the headline at the bottom of the screen read, “Political orgasm for the presidency of the House”. I kept watching to find out what constituted a political orgasm and who was experiencing it, but we were never told. I suspect Syllouris may have had one on Thursday night.

AFTER his Istanbul tantrum and a week of sulking Prez Nik decided to play the talks game with his pal Mustafa again. All it took was a short meeting with Mustafa at a bi-communal bash for kids on Thursday morning for him to forgive and forget. The two smiling and joking amigos, reportedly affected by the positive climate, decided to start intensive negotiations this Wednesday. I just hope Espen Barth Eide does not do anything to upset our Nik before then.

FOREIGN minister Ioannis Kasoulides, meanwhile, has flown to New York where he will have some meetings relating to the Cyprob, but primarily to campaign for Andreas Mavroyiannis who is standing for election to the post of president of the UN General Assembly.

It is not usual for a foreign minister to be campaigning for someone pursuing his personal ambitions, but Kasoulides always had a soft spot for Mavroyiannis. Cyprus stands to gain nothing from his election to the post – he has to be impartial – apart from bragging rights.

So why has the taxpayer’s money been used to fund Mavroyiannis’ campaigning? The taxpayer was paying for his first class travel and accommodation at exotic destinations where he lobbied for votes and for what? The only person who stands to gain if he is elected is Mavroyiannis, so why are we funding the pursuit of his personal ambition and also paying for Kasoulides to go to New York to campaign for him? Since when does the state fund the self-aggrandisement of retired public employees?

AFTER the failure of two voluntary retirement schemes to persuade employees of the Bank of Cyprus to leave the bank, despite threats that it would issue redundancy notices, in the end the bank bowed to the union ETYK and drafted a third scheme.

This was so attractive financially – some would receive in excess of 100 grand compensation over and above the benefits offered in the earlier schemes – that there are fears that it would be over-subscribed, many employees experiencing what CyBC might have described as a redundancy orgasm.

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