By Christos P. Panayiotides
THE stimulus for writing this article was the loss suffered by AKEL in the May parliamentary elections and the recent “self-criticism” which followed.
No doubt, AKEL is a respected historic party, which, in the past few years, has unfortunately- missed a golden opportunity to develop into a governing party and to alternate power with the other large political party, DISY.
This is a distinguishing feature of all mature and liberal political systems. The alternation in power secures the smooth functioning of the government process, it combats corruption and favouritism and it achieves economic stability.
One does not have to be an expert to be able to see that the political stability and the economic development of a country is conditional on the adoption of long-term policies that are followed consistently, irrespective of who is in power; in other words, irrespective of who is being called upon to apply these policies in practice.
Of course, the consistency of the politico-economic policies followed does not preclude the possibility of adopting different “shades” of such policies, depending on the assessments and beliefs of the governing party. However, such differences should be variations of the same theme, without the possibility and/or desire for revolutionary overthrows.
AKEL was born as an anti-establishment party and has served its purpose well by legitimate means but, in some cases, by means which could be subjected to criticism, such as the policy followed of the party members mutually supporting and sponsoring each other.
The totally legitimate aspiration of AKEL for power forced the party, on many occasions, to accept harmful compromises. Nevertheless, in 2008, the time arrived for AKEL to elect – without the need to resort to alliances with other parties – its own candidate for president.
The party succeeded then for a very simple reason: in the field of seeking a solution to the Cyprus problem, it found the way to convince the electorate that AKEL’s candidate had good prospects of attaining the best possible solution to the problem.
That was the time when the process of transforming AKEL into a socialist government party should have been launched. The conditions which were then prevailing in the world were ideal and such a goal was readily attainable. Instead, AKEL chose to remain trapped within the framework of a globally bankrupt political system and Cyprus was led into an economic storm.
The government sought to mitigate its responsibilities by arguing that the state and its supervisory bodies were unable to check the irresponsible behaviour of certain key economic players.
By contrast, the political forces that were then in power, along with other senseless politicians, had the so-called “moral courage” to raise their voices and to loudly table the celebrated “no”, to the bail-in thus leading Cyprus into an economic abyss.
The poverty, the unemployment, the misery, which followed this “thunderous no” has not yet been met with an apology from the then governing party. This is the cause of AKEL’s electoral defeat. This explanation has not been heard because it has never been explicitly stated.
Of course, it is never too late. Personally, I would very much like to see AKEL being transformed into a democratic, socially-inspired party, capable of alternating in power with another democratic liberal party, such as DISY while relinquishing its inflexible politico-economic positions, abandoning its alienating, empty-of-content political language, renouncing the policy of ejecting all those who are in disagreement, side-stepping the policy of “one hand washing the other hand and both hands washing the head” for the sake of Cyprus. AKEL encompasses competent and capable politicians, who can make political leaps, provided they are liberated from the constraints of the past.
Christos P. Panayiotides is a Certified Public Accountant