AFTER 10 years as leader of the communist party Akel, Andros Kyprianou announced that he will stand for re-election at the party’s congress next June. He will be eligible by just a few months as the party has a rule depriving anyone aged 65 and over from standing for a party post; Kyprianou will reach that age four months after the congress in October.
So, while he will comply with the party rule, in spirit he is showing contempt for it, as he will be over 65 for almost the entirety of his tenure, assuming he is re-elected. In announcing his intention to seek re-election, Kyprianou is closing the door on potential challengers, calculating that nobody will dare start lobbying for votes and be seen to undermine the leadership, something unacceptable to the communist party.
This means there are no plans to reposition Akel as a social democratic party which would seem the obvious course given the death of ideology in EU politics. All parties embrace the market economy nowadays and operate within the limits set by EU rules and directives. Political parties are now judged on how well they can manage an economy and administer the state machinery rather than on ideology, because all support the idea of free education, healthcare and progressive taxation.
The dogmatic Marxism Akel embraced in the past is out of date, incompatible with modern society, and exists only as a subject at universities. Yet Akel seems incapable of accepting this reality by closing the chapter on its Marxist past and adapting to the modern age. In fairness, apart from the very occasional reference to class struggle, the party no longer resorts to the communist rhetoric of the past, but it still resists embracing the new era, repositioning and rebranding itself as social democratic party, for which there a gap in Cyprus politics. Edek has branded itself as social democratic but has failed to convince because of its hardline nationalism.
Kyprianou’s announcement would suggest there are no plans to lead Akel into the 21st century despite the steadily declining support for the party, accelerated by the Christofias presidency which showed that old school communists were incapable of running an economy. Their idea that good government is the one that spends as much as possible led to state bankruptcy and this will not be easily forgotten by voters. This is why the party must break with its past to have a political future, but this will not happen by sticking to the same leadership.