Former Edek MP Yiorgos Varnavas said on Tuesday he would run for party president in the October 24-25 party conference.

In thinly veiled barbs against incumbent president Marinos Sizopoulos, Varnavas said the party can only play a decisive role in the pursuit of its goals on national and other issues if it gains strength among civil society, something requiring comradeship, respect for collective organs and for opposing views and transparency within the party.

Instead, Edek had turned to introversion and denunciations, resulting in dwindling support – down from 8.93 per cent in the 2011 House elections to 6.18 per cent in 2016. In the May 30, 2021 elections, despite its alliance with the Citizens Alliance it secured only 6.72 per cent of the vote, losing its position as the fourth largest party for the first time, Varnavas added.

The only exception was the 10.58 per cent of the vote it secured in the 2019 European Parliament elections. But rather than seizing the golden opportunity this created, it entered a lengthy period of introversion culminating in the expulsion of its MEP which led many officials to distance themselves from the party.

Varnavas attributed these issues to the ‘unilateral’ decisions of the current president and spoke also of intimidation of salaried staff and alleged abuse of party funds by the financial director.

He also set out his main objectives if elected and pledged transparency, including checks by the auditor general of the party’s accounts.

“My most substantial and basic objective is to reunite the movement,” he said.