Main opposition Akel announced on Saturday that it would launch consultations with Stavros Malas in its quest to find the right candidate for them to back in next year’s presidential elections.
The party’s central committee, following a meeting earlier in the day, announced that it has authorised the Akel secretariat to proceed with their decision to “explore the possibilities of a cooperation with him (Malas) in view of the Presidential Elections”.
Akel is on the hunt for a new presidential candidate after cooperation with businessman Mike Spanos – who was their first choice – fell through last month.
Malas, who served as health minister during Demetris Christofias’ administration, was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2013 elections. He made it the second round where he lost to Disy’s Nicos Anastasiades who was also backed by Diko and Evroko.
Following Spanos’ rejection, the Citizens’ Alliance chairman Yiorgos Lillikas tried to convince the party to back him instead but Akel leader Andros Kyprianou made it clear that they wouldn’t be backing Lillikas.
The party had said that the right candidate ought to be popular enough to be elected and agree with the party’s positions. In the aftermath of an Akel presidency viewed by most as disastrous, Malas was able to make it through to the run-off election in 2013, edging past Lillikas before succumbing to Anastasiades’ landslide victory.
To become Akel’s candidate, Malas needs to also have the same vision as the party as to the Cyprus problem, and the economy. Kyprianou said earlier in the year, that the right Akel candidate is one who could handle the Cyprus problem effectively, the country’s socioeconomic affairs, and wider domestic affairs in such a way as to bring about progress, and deal with corruption.
With the exception of former President Demetris Christofias in 2008, Akel has never run a party member for president.
In 2003, it supported Diko leader Tassos Papadopoulos, who won in a first-round landslide. Fifteen years earlier, Akel managed to elect George Vassiliou, a successful businessman, to the presidency.