With municipal elections looming this weekend, there has been a striking difference in the tones set during the campaigns in the islands’ two biggest cities, with a war of words pervading in Limassol.
The challenger – independent candidate Nicos Nicolaides backed by Disy – has given current mayor Andreas Christou a good run for his money forcing him to constantly defend his incumbency and the work he produced during his ten-year tenure. Christou is running for a third term with the support of Akel, Diko, and Edek.
Late last month Christou was forced to make public a letter from the auditor-general to avoid suggestions he was concealing potentially embarrassing information, following Nicolaides’ statements that perhaps he was hiding something and that is why he did not disclose it to municipal councillors.
Nicolaides also questioned Christou’s statements that the finances of the municipality were in top shape, and spoke of mismanagement. He also said that the municipality risked having to borrow money to cover its obligations.
In his last pre-election campaign before Sunday, Nicolaides has again criticised Christou for having a very carefully designed ‘communicative image’ and for taking credit for projects carried out in Limassol though “blaming others for any mistakes”.
By contrast, the challenger in Nicosia, Panayiotis Stavrinides, a professor of psychology, ended his pre-election campaign with a post on his Facebook profile saying that he and his opponent, incumbent Constantinos Yiorkadjis, had achieved an ad-free campaign.
“With Constantinos Yiorkadjis we disagree on many issues and we will continue to disagree and argue on the correctness of each of our views. I believe however, as we approach the end of the election campaign, that together with Constantinos we leave an important positive legacy,” Stavrinides said.
He said that Nicosians experienced an election period of “minimum environmental cost”. “Our roads were clear of posters and banners and generally paper waste was minimal”.
He and his co-candidate, Stavrinides said, “avoided the commercialisation of politics. No advertising, neither on radio nor television stations”.
“And thirdly, the quality of our debates began, continued and will remain political,” Stavrinides said. Stavrinides is running as an independent and Yiorkadjis is backed by Diko.
The Chief Returning Officer announced on Thursday practical information concerning the elections on Sunday.
Ballots, according to the announcement will open at 7am until noon and between 1pm and 6pm.
The head of each polling station has the authority to extend voting hours if it is deemed necessary – according to their judgment – up to midnight if there are voters waiting outside the centre.
Voters may use pens only with blue or black ink to vote their preferred candidates. Any other ink colours used, will make the ballot papers invalid, an announcement said.
“Therefore, voters are urged to necessarily use the pens available at the polling stations,” it said.
Votes will be counted at the polling stations, right after ballots close for voting.
Members of the public may find out where to vote online at http://wtv.elections.moi.gov.cy/Where2Vote.aspx or by sending an SMS message to 8998, with the following: wtv space ID number space date of birth – example wtv 900620 01/06/1996.
They may also call the following numbers:
Nicosia: 22804118, 22804122, 22804281, 22804295
Limassol: 25806447, 25806451, 25806455
Famagusta: 23200935, 24801002
Paphos: 26801143, 26801144