DISY leader Averof Neophytou has called a meeting of the party’s expanded political bureau to look at the results of the European elections and have an open discussion about the positions and direction of the party.
The party leadership said that members would be invited to criticise the party’s choices in a tough but constructive way and also submit proposals that could be discussed in the future.
This open party debate is intended to ease the pressure on the leadership from different quarters and from individuals all with differing agendas. While Disy took the biggest share of the votes in last month’s European elections its percentage was significantly down on the last 2016 parliamentary elections. The party top brass claimed they were happy with the result, considering it was the government party and bound to suffer as a result. It was, however, also the government party in 2016 when it took a much higher percentage of the vote.
That it is now suffering the adverse consequences of more than six years of President Anastasiades rule there is little doubt, but this is not its only problem. By fully identifying with the new hard-line, anti-settlement positions of Anastasiades, the party has alienated a significant number of its traditional supporters. The moderate, pro-settlement stance that defined the party throughout its existence has been deleted by Anastasiades in the last 18 months, raising fears that it has been turned into the personal vehicle of the president.
In comments quoted by Phileleftheros on Wednesday, former Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides hit the nail on the head when he said: “I could add that in the last months the picture shown by Disy was that it ceased being a party moving in the political space of the moderate Right and was moving in the space of the far Right on the issue that defines the Cyprus parties which is mainly the national issue.” He also censured Anastasiades for referring to Turkish Cypriot votes as “borrowed” votes and accused Disy of adopting Elam rhetoric on some issues. Pourgourides also criticised Disy for aligning itself with Anastasiades in his repeated undermining of the federal settlement.
Neophytou is in a very difficult position. He cannot differentiate himself from Anastasiades’ positions without turning more than half the party against his leadership because the president still wields great influence among party officials. On the other hand, can he carry on applauding and backing the president’s hard-line, anti-settlement position, which is a betrayal of everything that Disy has stood for? Disy is fast becoming the Anastasiades Party, the president having even rewritten its traditional line on the national issue because it suits his own ends.