Questions were bound to be asked about the poor showing of Cyprus’ Green Party in Sunday’s European elections, considering how well the Greens did in other countries, where they scored double digit shares of the vote. In Germany and Finland the Greens came second and in France and Luxembourg third. In Cyprus, despite joining forces with the Citizens’ Alliance, the Greens came seventh with a 3.29 per cent share of the vote, well behind Elam in fifth and the fledgling Democratic Front (Depa).
Party leader Giorgos Perdikis, speaking on Tuesday, admitted that this was a disappointing result and suggested that Cyprus merely followed the trend in southern European states; in Malta and Greece they did much worse while in Italy they did not stand. While there may be a superficial link among the states of the European south, this was not a satisfactory showing, but it would serve a useful purpose if it prompted the Greens into a general reappraisal of the party’s politics, structure and profile.
In most European countries, Green parties fall in the category of ‘alternative’ as they shun the mainstream, thus attracting younger supporters with different priorities and values from the majority of the population. This demographic might be too small to sustain a party in Cyprus, but we will never know unless it is tested and Perdikis’ Greens have not done so. They cannot be described as an ‘alternative’ party that attracts the young, as it is as conventional as the other parties. Its only difference from Edek, Solidarity and Alliance is that it occasionally embraces green causes.
It still operates, however, as a personal vehicle of its all-powerful leader, who specialises in populism and traditional nationalism. When speaking about the national issue he sounds just like Papadopoulos, Lillikas, Sizopoulos and Theocharous, alienating potential supporters. How alternative, or attractive to people could Edek with green sensitivities be? By making an electoral agreement with the hardliners of the Citizens’ Alliance for the European elections, Perdikis confirmed that the Greens are part of the old party establishment with nothing new to offer. They cannot even attract the protest vote, because they are too conservative to reposition themselves politically.
Speaking on radio on Tuesday, Perdikis, underlining his party’s commitment to environmental issues, said it had adopted all the policies embraced by the European Greens. The implication was that Cypriot voters were not interested in green issues, which may be correct, but there is an alternative reading of this – Cypriot voters concerned about environmental issues might not want to vote for a hard-line, nationalist party because it also has a green agenda.