Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos on Wednesday said although the proposal to postpone December’s municipal elections had not been accepted by political parties, he still believed it made the most sense.
“It was my view that, faced with two major issues that we have to manage, one is the Cyprus problem and the other the reform of local government, we must make sure to keep a united internal front,” Hasikos said.
The reform of local government was not simple but was “absolutely necessary”.
“So it was my opinion that it would be good to postpone these elections in order to manage the Cyprus problem in a climate and spirit of unity and not through a broken domestic front as is usually the case after elections,” Hasikos said.
In addition, he said, he would have preferred for the existing incumbents in local government to implement the reform which was expected to be voted by the House plenum.
“It appears that this proposal was not heeded. Meanwhile, parties have moved on with their own processes, have chosen candidates,” he said. It was no longer for the interior minister and the government, he said, to tell the parties to stop the procedure and the elections.
“If the parties themselves feel that it would be better to postpone the elections, it is in their hands. The parliament may, if it wishes, to take such a decision, for the postponement of the elections,” Hasikos said.
He added that at this point it would be inappropriate and insulting to tell political parties to stop, “when they have already launched their own procedures, selected candidates and some of them have begun their campaign”.
Postponing the municipal elections until after local government reforms were implemented was also a proposal voiced earlier in the year by the head of ruling party Disy, Averof Neophytou.
Currently, there are 30 municipalities in the Republic and experts have suggested cutting their number would help alleviate the financial woes most were facing.
Commenting on the same issue on Wednesday, Neophytou said that the municipal elections would take place as planned, unless there is a political agreement on the Cyprus problem in November.
“If there is a political agreement on the Cyprus problem in November are we to go on elections in December?” Neophytou said. He added that this would depend on developments concerning the settlement discussions.