THE LEADER of the Solidarity Party and MEP, Eleni Theochrous had a nerve declaring that her party’s parliamentary seat for Limassol, which had to be vacated after the decision of the electoral court (full bench of the Supreme Court), politically and morally, belonged to her party. Taking the moral high ground has always been second nature to Dr Theocharous, who caused the problem in the first place, by her politically dishonest behaviour in last year’s parliamentary elections.
The Court decided that the taking over of the seat she had won in last year’s election by Solidarity’s runner-up Georgios Papadopoulos, was unlawful, because Theocharous had not been sworn in as a deputy. If she had been sworn in and then stepped down, the seat she won would have gone to Solidarity’s Limassol candidate that came second in preference votes. She stepped down, before being sworn in so legally the seat could not go to the next candidate in line, ruled the electoral court. At the time, the attorney-general had advised the chief returning officer that the seat should go to Papadopoulos.
Dr Theocharous gave up the parliamentary seat because if she was sworn in she would have had to give up her very-well-paid seat at the European Parliament, something she was quite clearly not prepared to do, even though she knowingly misled the voters about this. She had said she would tell voters before election-day, whether she would stay at the European Parliament or take a seat in the Cyprus legislature. She did not have the honesty to do so, taking people’s votes while having no intention to represent them.
This was a much more serious issue, politically and morally, than the legal technicality on which the electoral court ruled. Here was a candidate and party leader making voters think that she would represent them in the House of Representatives, but never had the intention of doing so. Morally and politically this was unacceptable behaviour even though it is not the business of the courts to rule on cases of political deception such this. After all, if political deception were a crime many of our politicians would be behind bars.
The attorney-general will now have to decide how the empty parliamentary seat would be filled. The law stipulates that a seat must be filled within 45 days of being vacated, but has no provision about how this should be done, so even the holding of a by-election appears to be a grey area. Everyone seems to agree on one thing, there was a gap in the law. Should the officials who drafted the law have considered there would be a possibility of a party leader standing for election to parliament and refusing to be sworn in, because she also happens to be a Member of the European Parliament?
Lawmakers correctly assumed that all candidates, who stood for election to parliament, would take their seats if elected. How could they have guessed that there would ever be a candidate like Dr Theocharous, asking for the votes of people she had no intention of representing in the House?