ELECTIONS for the European Parliament do not generate much excitement because there is nothing at stake apart from the parties testing their electoral strength and the government gauging its approval rating. Even the outcome is more or less known, with five of the six parliamentary seats more or less accounted for with Disy and Akel taking two each and Diko almost certain to win the fifth.
Inevitably, the issue of the campaign has become the sixth seat, which in the last parliament was held by Edek. This time, polls have consistently shown Edek and Elam being so close that nobody can predict which of the two will win the seat on Sunday. Edek, in a sign of desperation, has been citing the danger of an extremist nationalist being elected to the European Parliament as a reason to vote for the socialists.
Ironically, Edek’s nationalist rhetoric is only marginally less hard-line than Elam’s, while on the Cyprus problem their positions are indistinguishable. Elam, however, has much more in common with the populist far-right parties and has very close ties with Greece’s fascist party Golden Dawn, of which, some say, Elam is a branch. How compelling is the argument that Elam has to be kept out of the European Parliament, when it already has two seats in the Cyprus parliament?
It is not as if the election of an Elam candidate would bring shame on Cyprus, as Edek has been arguing, considering the big number of candidates from far-right parties, across Europe, expected to win a seat in the European Parliament. Elam could claim, if it had a sense of humour, that if it won a seat Cyprus would be represented in the grouping of far-right parties in the European Parliament.
Oddly enough, Disy leader Averof Neophytou has also resorted to the argument that people should vote to keep the extremists and Euro-sceptics out. Fearing that voter apathy could cost his party, he issued a plea to voters, to go to the polls on Sunday to ensure against the prospect of “50 per cent of our MEPs having an anti-European agenda.” He counted Akel as anti-European, given its occasional anti-EU rhetoric, but his plea lacked perspective. Akel does not support leaving the EU, despite often criticising its “neoliberal” economic policies.
Calling on voters to go to the polling stations on Sunday in order to prevent candidates of one or the other party being elected, is not very positive campaigning, but it seems the only way to tackle voter apathy, which seems to be the main issue of European elections.