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Neophytou says party determined to win back voters’ trust

Disy leader Averof Neophytou

Disy leader Averof Neophytou said on Monday his party had received the message sent by voters in last month’s European elections and was determined to win back the trust of those who did not vote for Disy.

He was speaking at a meeting of the political office of ruling Disy convened on Monday evening to discuss the party’s future following the disappointing results of last month’s European elections.

Around 150 Disy members were expected to attend.

The party won the largest share of the votes (29.02 per cent) but still dropped almost nine points compared to its showing in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Neophytou said Disy was being given the opportunity to correct its mistakes, discuss its future and redefine what kind of party it wants to be, “to reaffirm the principles and values inherited to us by Glafkos Clerides, our political father”.

Monday’s meeting has been seen as a showdown of sorts between the two trends inside the party: the moderates and those who are taking a more nationalistic tone with the Disy leadership facing criticism for steering the party toward a ‘nationalistic’ direction and rhetoric.

In his opening remarks, Neophytou said the party, after fighting a hard battle, had won another election victory despite losses which they must reflect on.

He said the party had faced increased public expectations for faster and clearer signs of economic recovery, while a series of negative events “overshadowed the public debate and did not allow us to stand before society in the way we would like to”.

These problems, he added, had prevented the party from showcasing “the very important work” the party had done for the country.

“They either chose to abstain, or vote another combination, but what’s for certain is that, the majority wanted to send us a message,” he said.

Neophytou said the party had received the voters’ message and would win back their trust but this must be done in a very specific and not vague manner.

He said the party must show its determination “to make an honest compromise on our national problem. Our commitment to our national identity, without nationalism and fanaticism.”

But the leader also pointed to what the party had achieved. Disy was among the few parties of the European People’s Party family to reach to the top spot during last May’s elections and keep the same MEP seat numbers as in 2014.

The party has been under criticism even by many of its own members over Neophytou’s stance during the election campaign but also the government and some of its candidate MEPs.

The party leader drew the ire of many after his warning a few days before the elections that if Greek Cypriots were to abstain from the ballot, Turkish Cypriots could determine the outcome.

President Nicos Anastasiades and government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou too had made comments appearing to disparage Turkish Cypriot voters through references to the “borrowed votes” Akel was seeking from Turkish Cypriots.

Disy’s super-nationalist member and MEP candidate, Eleni Stavrou, did not help the situation after writing a post on Facebook essentially calling Akel’s Turkish Cypriot candidate Niyazi Kizilyurek, an agent for Turkey.

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