Citizens’ Alliance chief Giorgos Lillikas said on Wednesday that if his proposal for the ‘centre’ parties to jointly run Andreas Angelides as a candidate in the presidential elections is accepted, Angelides may be persuaded to run.
Angelides, a Diko veteran MP and now a Citizens’ Alliance official, on Tuesday denied he had any interest in running for president.
Lillikas has said that his own candidacy is not incumbent on the support of any other party.
Seeing neither scenario – other parties backing his own, or Angelides’, candidacy – gain much traction, Lillikas offered a rather bizarre alternative, proposing that the joint candidate is selected by the public in a vote open to all.
“The Alliance has already proposed that the decision be made by the people’s vote, instead of party leaders,” Lillikas said.
“The next president is going to be elected by the public anyway, so why not have the joint candidate elected beforehand, too?”
Asked whether he was talking about a vote by the members of the five ‘centre’ parties, Lillikas said he meant a vote by all voting citizens.
“The French did something like this when the Republican party had three candidates, as well as the Socialist party, which had four,” he said.
“Both parties organised elections open to all French citizens.”
When it was pointed out that such an election would be vulnerable to influence by the votes of Disy or Akel people, Lillikas said he has full confidence in the public’s maturity and independence from party leaderships.
After the 2013 election, in which Lillikas came in third and missed out on the runoff, he had claimed that Disy had injected Akel candidate Stavros Malas with enough votes to defeat Lillikas.
“But that was done with a small number of voters,” he said.
“It can’t be done on a large scale.”
Lillikas said that his own candidacy remains on the table and is not incumbent on the support of any other party.
Meanwhile, mounting tension in the ranks of the ‘centre’ front could mean the break-up of the alliance before it has even been fully carved out, even as some of its leaders attempted to salvage it on Wednesday.
In the fallout from Lillikas’ tactical manoeuvring on Tuesday, when he sent a letter to Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos laying out an agenda designed to favour his own candidacy, which was promptly rejected, Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous said a meeting of all five party leaders was necessary.
The meeting, she said, should focus on defining criteria to agree on a candidate and formulate a joint declaration to be signed by all five parties.
She said scheduling the meeting for next weekend, April 8 and 9, would allow her to be present, as she will be away on European parliament business until then.
“But if the meeting is arranged for this weekend, I have already said Solidarity will be represented by deputy chairman Polis Pallikaros,” she said.
Asked to comment on the trouble the ‘centre’ parties are having in finding a joint candidate, Theocharous said she was confident the five parties will eventually rally behind a single candidate.
Later on Wednesday, the Greens left their decision open and said the party should not be placed in either camp until it has made a decision.
“When the time is right we will decide our position,” the party said.
“Let some not rush to place us in one camp or another.”
Although the party agreed on the need for a single candidate and an agreed programme of governance, it said “the climate that has been created is not conducive to the effort”.
“Public correspondence and provocations not helpful to the goal of unity should be avoided,” the Greens said.
The party repeated its proposal that the candidate not be a party leader.
In his letter to Papadopoulos on Tuesday, Lillikas argued that the process of deliberating to agree on a candidate should be expedited, pressing for a joint meeting of all five party leaders.
Papadopoulos responded that Diko is currently pursuing bilateral meetings with each party but saw no need for urgency, stating that it had spread out its meetings over the coming weeks, and pledged to revisit the need for a joint meeting after it had concluded them.