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Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Prez Nik’s election confusion

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THE ELECTION campaign may have legally ended at midnight on Friday, but some party leaders continued with some light campaigning on Saturday. It was a ‘light’ violation of the law so there was no reason for anyone to get worked up about it or demand the police stepped in.

Most met up with party candidates in some central city location for coffee as this gave them an excuse to wander around the streets, be seen and speak to people. Some also invited TV stations to film their non-electioneering walkabouts which were posted on YouTube, in case the TV stations decided not to broadcast on Saturday night, because they could get in trouble.

Party leaders have no such worries, Edek chief Dr Sizopoulos illustrated this by taking all his party’s Limassol candidates on a walk on one of the city’s busy shopping streets. It was a meeting “of a social nature,” he told the hacks he invited to cover the social event. Dr Sizo, it should be said, invites TV cameras to all his meetings of a social nature and makes a statement afterwards.

“With the end of the election period yesterday, today we have the opportunity to relax…so we decided to have a small tour of the town’s commercial centre, to relax, to see people, to talk to shopkeepers, to see how the market is doing…exploiting the good weather we are relaxing and preparing for tomorrow’s difficult day.”

 

OTHER leaders just met up with candidates and associates in cafes or restaurants, but still invited the TV cameras to film their relaxation.

Akel arranged a different kind of relaxation for their candidates on Saturday. It organised a charity football match between veteran players (I suspect they were all former Omonia men) and Akel parliamentary candidates. As the match was to raise money for the Makarios hospital children’s oncology department, it could not be viewed as campaigning by any stretch of the imagination.

 

MANY have been wondering why Prez Nik had taken such an active part in the parliamentary election campaign, making public appearances daily, constantly advertising his government’s achievements and getting his spokesman to return all the dirt thrown at him by Akel and Diko.

He has even attended news conferences given by his ministers to announced government plans. He was sat at the side of finance minister Constantinos Petrides, like a proud guardian, when he was giving the details about the Recovery and Resilience Plan, 10 days ago. The funny thing was that he had presented the plan in a televised address, a couple of days earlier.

On Wednesday, like a proud guardian again, he was sat next to health minister Constantinos Ioannou, who announced that €74m of EU funds would be channeled to the health system. This gave him the opportunity to step in and wax lyrical about his government’s big achievement, Gesy, apropos of nothing.   Had nobody informed Nik that it was parliamentary and not presidential elections that were being held today?

 

THERE are many theories circulating as an explanation of this peculiar behaviour by the Prez.

He has been receiving a merciless battering by Akel and Diko in the last six months about the passports, corruption, his arrogance and so on, so he felt this was an opportunity to restore his image by using the campaign to promote the positives of his administration. He is very sensitive about his public image and like most politicians, wants to be loved.

A second theory was that he was alarmed into action by the opinion polls showing declining support for Disy and felt he should step in and save the day. If his intervention worked, he would take all the credit, but if it did not he would blame Averof for running a bad campaign.

There is also my theory. That the thought of stepping down in 2023, as he had announced he would do, no longer appealed to him and he saw the parliamentary elections as a rehearsal for the presidentials. If he does well he would have a strong case for changing his mind and standing again in 2023, in order to save Disy and the country. The law, limiting a president to two terms, was passed after his first term and is not retroactive.  The relief I will feel if my theory is proved wrong, will far outweigh the embarrassment.

 

THE LAST few days of the campaign were dominated by one of the most colossally inane issues imaginable – the forged school-leaving certificate of the Commissioner for Volunteerism, Yiannis Yiannaki and suspicions that he did not have university degree, that was a requirement for the job.

This meant that that his appointment was, shock-horror, a rusfeti by Prez Nik and not based on his qualities and track record, like all other appointments in Kyproulla. The government had not properly scrutinised his so-called degree and had not investigated its validity, something which probably happens all the time.

I know that a university degree is a legal requirement for many state positions, but it is a stupid law because a degree is no guarantee of an appointee’s suitability for a job. There is an abundance of morons with a degree which is no safeguard against an appointee being corrupt, incompetent, lazy or all three. Nowadays, everyone has a degree so it is certainly no safeguard against rusfetological appointments or guarantee of competence.

 

YIANNAKI was just a Disy apparatchik, a loser, who managed to work his way into a youth organization and when Nik was elected in 2013, he created a post for him – Commissioner for Volunteerism – that would pay him a salary much higher than his abilities would command in the job market.

This happens all the time, it is how the parties attract supporters and keep them on board – through the promise of some cushy government job. Over the years, Diko and Akel have arranged government jobs for thousands of their own unemployable apparatchiks.

In fact, during the golden era of Spy Kyp, a Diko membership card guaranteed a public sector job. Akelite doctors got all the jobs in the state hospitals (there was an alliance of the two parties in the 70s and 80s) because there were not many Dikhead doctors.

Hearing Akel and Diko playing the squeamish rusfeti virgins, pretending they were shocked by the Yiannaki farce was priceless.

 

THE BIG scandal was leaked by Odysseas, who had investigated Yiannaki’s degrees after receiving a complaint, to his mouthpiece Phil, on Tuesday, a day after he reported the case to the chief of police.

This led to accusations that Odysseas had timed the leaking of the report to help Diko’s election campaign and cause harm to Disy, which is perfectly plausible. He could have waited until after the elections to report the case or to leak the letter to Phil. There was no hurry as Yiannaki was not going to do a runner.

Stung by the accusations, the holier-than-thou Odysseas gave his mouthpiece the dates of when he received the complaint, when he asked Yiannaki for documents and when he sent the letter to the police chief. None of this explained why he could not wait a week before alerting the police chief to the forged school leaving certificate. A bit of electoral help was the auditor-general’s way of thanking Junior for his unrelenting efforts to make Odysseas supreme ruler of the country.

 

I APOLOGISE for wasting so much space on the Yiannaki farce, instead of focusing on the serious issues of the elections, which I had not time to study. I also would like to apologise to couple of friends who are standing in the elections and I failed to give them a plug in our establishment in previous weeks. Today, I would be breaking the law if I asked readers to vote for a specific candidate, even if I did this while relaxing, like Dr Sizo. I would also like to apologise that there was not a single mention of Covid 19 today.

Finally, I would like to apologise that yet again I have been unable to write the piece celebrating Akel’s 80th anniversary, because even if I had done it in a relaxed way, it could have been interpreted as electoral campaigning in favour of the commies. I was quite put off, when I realised that Akel is as old as my hero Bob Dylan, who celebrated his 80th birthday last Monday.

 

TO VOTE or not to vote. That would have been the question if there were elections in Hamlet’s time and it is still valid today. Should we exercise the sacred right to vote in this celebration of democracy or should we just not bother, heeding anarchist activist Emma Goldman who said, “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”? Of course, those who want nothing to change have a duty to vote.  I cannot offer any more advice, without charging for it, but I can wish everyone a happy voting day and express the hope that your party wins all 56 seats.

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