An otherwise lifeless election campaign was jazzed up on Thursday when during a news programme one politician threatened to slap another in the face.
The kerfuffle happened on Sigma’s live televised noon show ‘Mesimeri kai Kati’, one day before the official submission of candidacies for the 2018 presidential elections.
The protagonists were Diko MP Zacharias Koulias and Andreas Themistocleous, a senior campaign staffer for presidential hopeful Giorgos Lillikas.
It all began when Themistocleous attacked Diko and its party leader Nicolas Papadopoulos for signing off on all the bills emanating from the 2013 bailout deal between Cyprus and its international lenders.
The implication was that Diko had gone along with all the austerity measures enacted in the wake of the financial and banking meltdown.
Going a step further, Themistocleous suggested that Koulias should refrain from speaking about the state of the economy since his party is co-responsible for ‘this crime perpetrated against the Cypriot people’.
“You are gravely mistaken, but you are forgiven because you are young,” Koulias hit back, turning to face Themistocleous.
The back-and-forth went on for a while longer, but tensions really flared when Themistocleous asked Koulias not to interrupt him, wagging his finger at him.
Koulias, whose agitation threshold is typically low, then blew a gasket.
“Don’t you wag your finger at me. You could use a smacking,” he barked, switching to the Cypriot dialect.
Eventually the two men managed to calm down, allowing the show to go on smoothly.
On Friday, a total of nine candidates will be submitting their candidacy for the presidency.
The first round of elections is scheduled for January 28, the runoff for February 4.
Latest polls show that Diko’s Papadopoulos will garner around 15 per cent of the popular vote in the first round, with Lillikas getting just two per cent.