Cyprus Mail
OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Coffeeshop: All hail the born-again rejectionist

Prez Nik, the master of political transformations, at a social event on Monday night in Nicosia

ANOTHER potential national saviour appears set to join the list of presidential candidates. He is wealthy businessman, Mike Spanos, who is planning on following the successful George Vass formula, which involves standing as an independent but having the support of the commies of Akel.

No deal has been reached yet, with Akel apparently also looking at other rich capitalists as possible candidates but the fact his name was leaked to the media is an indication Spanos could be the front-runner.

The comrades wanted to gauge the reaction – not among their own sheep that would graze at whichever pasture they are taken to by the party – of society and see whether he would be a credible candidate that would attract votes from the non-Akelite hordes and thus have a realistic chance of winning.

You cannot blame the commies for returning to the successful formula of backing a millionaire businessman as Vass had turned out to be good president and the party leadership knows that after the Tof fiasco, it would take a few decades, if not centuries, before people voted for an Akelite to run the economy again.

For most people, after the Tof years, having an Akelite in charge of the economy is as criminally insane as having a paedophile running an orphanage or making a jihadist a church caretaker.

SOME CHECKS have been run on Spanos to ensure he was not a nasty capitalist when he was CEO of Coca-Cola Cyprus, a position he left when it was sold to a Greek company a few years ago. I hear that union reps spoke to Coca-Cola workers to find out whether he was a good boss that respected workers’ rights. There were no complaints.

How gloriously ironic that our commies could back a man who made his name and money selling and promoting the greatest brand of American capitalism. Coke has been cited by communists all over the world as a prime example of what is bad about capitalism.

What puzzles me about Akel’s choice is that Spanos is not just a wealthy businessman, but he is one of us – a neo-liberal supporter of the free market. Watching him on the telly back in 2013, when all the stations were inviting economists to discuss the crisis, he made no secret of his neo-liberal ideas, which I thought was quite cool in our economically backward country.

I will only say that when Akelites label someone a neo-liberal it is a term of abuse. The comrades must be desperate, if they are considering having a self-confessed, neo-liberal as their candidate. It is vindication of all neo-liberals that Akel has finally admitted in the most emphatic way that a neo-liberal could be trusted to do a better job running the economy than a commie.

SPANOS could water down his neo-liberal ideas in order to secure the backing of the commies in order to boost his chances. After all, he would be running as an independent and have to rely on the red vote to have any chance of success.

This would be a small-scale betrayal when you compare him to Prez Nik who defected to the pro-partition camp, after building a career as a pro-settlement champion, in the belief that this would help his re-election bid. But the main reason the commies are seriously considering Spanos is that he supports a deal and could also attract many pro-settlement Disy voters who are mightily pissed off with Nik’s newly-found rejectionism.

Objectively speaking, Spanos has only two minus points. First he is from Limassol the town that gave us the certifiable loony Spy Kyp and the current incumbent who is lately showing many signs of looniness. Second, he is called Mike and I do not think Cypriot Hellenism is ready for president with an English first name.


STAYING on the election front, the Edek-Diko-Solidarity love-in seems to be going from strength to strength, the party leaders having met again last Monday to repeat their vows of support to Junior.

Meanwhile Yiorkos Lillikas cuts a sad figure, with even his own party members questioning his misguided decision to stand without support from anywhere else. You could almost feel sorry for him if he were not such an unlikeable, self-serving, opportunist, but because he is, you can’t help taking some mean pleasure from his predicament.

Why does he insist on standing when he has zero chance of winning? Because he is a self-serving, opportunist who hopes to get 3 or 4 per cent of the vote which he could then offer to one of the two candidates in the run-off election, in exchange for a ministerial position.

Anyone who has followed the career of Yiorkos knows that the only reason for the existence of the Alliance of Citizens is to serve his personal ambitions. He is that kind of idealist.

SOMEONE who embraces Lillikas’ type of idealism, Prez Nik, seems to be suffering a crisis of identity as a born-again rejectionist. On Friday afternoon, he paid a visit to the Dherynia checkpoint, scheduled to be opened in the not too distant future.

While there he said his presence was “a symbolic action, to prove how determined we are to work so there is no need for road-blocks and checkpoints” Was this the same Nik who had said he would never accept “just any solution” and his speeches of the last few weeks were preparing the ground for a collapse of the talks?

Was this the same Nik that, five days earlier, openly attacked Espen Barth Eide and accused him of adopting the Turkish side’s positions? Was this the same Nik that resorted to Tassos-style misinformation tactic in order to poison the climate, claiming that Eide wanted to impose arbitration? This was a blatant lie, but it was repeated by his church-going government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, who has also undergone a transformation now that his boss has become a born-again rejectionist and defected to the other side.

For as long as Nik was supposedly working for a settlement Christodoulides, was half-heartedly defending the government’s actions. Now that his boss has switched camps Christodoulides is defending him with a passion nobody thought he had in him, committing the sin of lying.

ARE WE about to see another Nik transformation and an abandonment of his newly found rejectionist faith, which he had believed, on the advice of his smart communications advisors, would secure him another term?

According to our mole his communications advisors told him he could not sell a settlement to the public and would be better off quitting the talks, because of Turkish intransigence, which most people would buy, and focusing on his re-election because there would be no challengers. They had made one wrong assumption – Akel’s candidate would be Andros Kyprianou who was as little threat to Nik as Junior.

But Akel’s decision to back someone outside the party that supported a settlement changed everything. All pro-settlement voters would turn their back on Nik and he might not even have got through the first round of the election. Being no less self-serving than Lillikas, it would be no surprise if Nik underwent yet another political transformation in the coming days.

ESPEN Barth Eide may have a lot to do with a possible transformation. He has decided to make things difficult by alerting him to the dangers of a talks’ collapse. First, the Special Advisor’s office would be closed and Eide would return to Norway. Second, the UN Security Council would scale down the Unficyp operation and eventually pull it out.

This prospect would scare the living daylights out of Greek Cypriots who would not be able to sleep at night knowing there is nobody between the Turkish troops and their homes. And nobody would forgive Nik when they find out that a settlement would have stipulated the withdrawal of Turkish troops (only 600 remaining) and no right of unilateral intervention.

This arrangement on security, brokered by Eide, has been given the green light by Ankara. Nik would not be a very popular guy when it emerges, as it will, that he walked away from a settlement that would have led to the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and by so doing caused the withdrawal of Unficyp and the continuing presence of the Turks.

Interestingly, this security arrangement we could only dream of was down to the work of the much-abused Eide, whom Nik and his fellow-rejectionists want to be replaced because he was adopting the Turkish positions. Stupidity was, is and always will be invincible in Kyproulla.

FREEDOM-FIGHTER Eleni Theocharous, who likes to create the impression that she is concerned with loftier and nobler things than most politicians, showed her true colours last week when she issued a statement in order to censure state broadcaster Rik.

The reason. Rik had failed to send a camera crew to cover comments made by Dr Theocharous. “We think it is not the duty of Rik to exclude opposing voices and it is not its job to support only the government policy,” the self-regarding Theocharous said.

The idea that whenever some loser politician opens his or her mouth, to repeat the same nonsense they have been saying for the last 10 years, a Rik camera crew must be present to film them is very widespread. Politicians, because they approve the Rik budget, think they own it and it should always be at their beck and call.

The only legitimate criticism of Rik is that it wastes too many resources covering party leaders saying nothing new. And Theocharous should not be complaining because by supporting government policy, Rik is promoting opposition to a settlement, just like her.

TOWARDS the end of last Thursday’s meeting between Nik and Mustafa, in the presence of the pro-Turkish Eide, the caterers were asked for champagne. Two bottles of bubbly were opened and everyone had a glass including Nik who has a policy of not mixing his drinks. The reason for offering champagne was not any major breakthrough in the talks. It was because the negotiations were celebrating their second birthday. On the third birthday of the talks, I hope the caterers would have the foresight to put a few drop of potent poison in the champagne.

Follow Patroclos on Twitter @Coffeeshop1991

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