IN AN atypical move, main opposition AKEL on Thursday released the conclusions of its internal analysis regarding the party’s failure in last May’s legislative elections, in which it saw over a fifth of the votes it won in 2011 gone and lost three seats in parliament.
In a news conference, leader Andros Kyprianou said that AKEL failed to propose solutions to the huge financial and social issues plaguing Cyprus in the last few years.
“Rightly or wrongly, many people don’t believe AKEL can defend their interests,” Kyprianou said.
“People who found themselves out of work, who have a hard time getting by with no help from the state, feel that in the crucial moment, AKEL did not stand by them. At the same time, during the years of the Anastasiades’ government, we failed to persuade them that we can come up with credible alternatives on the economy.”
He added that in the minds of a bloc of voters, AKEL voices valid criticism but has no realistic proposals on how things can change.
“This bloc thus punished us through abstention, because it did not see us as the answer to its problems, nor the hope in its future,” Kyprianou acknowledged.
AKEL’s leader also admitted that the Christofias government impacted negatively on “many people’s conscience”, for which AKEL’s leadership also bears responsibility.
“We evaluated the Christofias government,” Kyprianou commented.
“We appreciated the rich and multi-faceted work it did. We acknowledged the mistakes, the weaknesses, and the omissions. But we failed to persuade the voters of our views.”
He added that the party’s image was dealt a heavy blow by the loss of the “moral advantage” it has traditionally enjoyed.
“Despite our very sincere effort to address and crush incidents of corruption and graft, we failed to demonstrate that we are not all the same,” Kyprianou said.
“The responsibility of the leadership in failing to persuade, through initiatives and actions, that we are different, and that we don’t tolerate such incidents, is enormous.”
AKEL’s leader also cited a growing perception that AKEL and ruling DISY, its traditional nemesis, are, in truth, aligned on many issues, and crucially, on the Cyprus problem – an unacknowledged alliance mockingly referred to as ‘DISAKEL’.
“Changing the electoral law sent a message of arrogance, and magnified the false categorisation between ‘small’ and ‘big’ parties,” Kyprianou said.
“Affairs like Focus and the waste-processing plants, which gave people the chance to paint us with the same brush as DISY, cost the party dearly, much as AKEL’s involvement has no bearing in reality.”
He also recognised that AKEL’s ballot, although respectable and serious, proved less broad in scope than it should have been.
Kyprianou partly blamed AKEL’s poor showing in the May elections on prominent former AKEL members, which undermined the collective effort.
“As necessary as the deepening of democracy and diverging opinions in the party, respecting the majority’s decisions is equally crucial,” Kyprianou explained.
“We didn’t fight in unison, we didn’t address voters broadly, and we disappointed valuable people, who preferred to keep away from such behaviours.”
Expressing the party’s willingness and desire to change, AKEL’s leader said the recovery will not be an easy task.
“It will be a long and painful process, which we will follow to the end nonetheless,” he said.
“We will address the broader public, with new ways and new means.”
AKEL, he added, once more needs to lead the way on matters of corruption and graft, strengthen its ideological and political unity, as well as free dialogue and the protection of dissenting opinions.