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Our View: Outrage over minister’s election participation is unjustified

Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos

THE NIKOLAS 2018 election campaign staff must have run out of negative things to say about President Anastasiades. There is no other way of explaining the issuing of the moralistic announcement censuring the interior minister Constantinos Petrides for going to the Anastasiades campaign HQ, “with ministry officials and taking part in scheduled election activity.”

The announcement, which described the incident as “unprecedented”, concluded: “This event constitutes yet another politically reprehensible example of abuse of power and arrogance on the part of the Anastasiades government, which does not hesitate turning state institutions, but also public officers, into instruments of Mr Anastasiades’ election campaign.” Akel expressed similar indignation, saying Anastasiades “is having a hard time distinguishing between his role as a president and being a presidential candidate.”

It takes a lot of nerve for the staff of Diko to take the moral high ground about such an event, considering the party founder and leader, the late Spyros Kyprianou recruited the entire state machinery for his two re-election campaigns in 1980s; they were all Kyprianou supporters because the state only hired Diko members during his presidency. Akel, acknowledged this by saying these were “practices of days past.”

Government ministers have always taken part in election campaigns so the Papadopoulos’ campaign staff’s and the Akel spokesman’s moral outrage is not only unjustified it also shows ignorance. Was the incident “unprecedented” considering it takes place all the time? After all, some ministers are among the closest associates of the president, implement government policies and are committed to helping his re-election. Have the election workers of Nikolas 2018 not realised that members of the cabinet are currently touring the countryside advertising the government’s work in order to help Anastasiades’ re-election? And it is difficult to understand what is wrong with this?

It is neither unethical nor an abuse of power to do this. It was not an independent state official, like the attorney-general or the governor of the Central Bank that was campaigning, but a government minister. Is it because we have a presidential system of government that ministers should not take part in an election campaign? In a parliamentary system, it is an obligation for members of the cabinet to campaign during an election. Who are we kidding in claiming ministers were independent, above party officials?

What is astonishing was that Papadopoulos’ party, Diko, not so long ago, sponsored a bill, in co-operation with Disy, enabling public employees to hold posts in political parties. It is rather hypocritical for these people now to complain because the interior minister took part in election activity with public employees. If a public employee can be the general secretary or vice president of Diko, why can’t Disy-supporting public employees not participate in the Anastasiades election campaign?

If public employees can hold a position in the hierarchy of a political party, why can’t ministers campaign for the re-election of the president?

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