Although the candidates continued their meetings with groups of voters and their visits around the country, they have scaled down their campaigning last week as a mark of respect to the late Archbishop Chrysostomos. It was a much-needed respite, though short, from an election campaign that has been dragging on for far too long.
Most candidates have been on the campaign trail for six months now and there are still two-and-a-half months to go before the vote. Election fatigue may have set in just when the race is about to enter the final push and the campaigning stepped up. It is entirely possible this will remain a low-key campaign publicly with much of the vote gathering taking place through social media and direct targeting of voters.
So far, each candidate has been presenting their programme in different ways. Some have provided a full set of proposals while others have been presenting them in instalments, but they are all very general and vague. Everyone wants to make Cyprus a hi-tech centre, attract more foreign investment, create well-paid jobs for the young, help single families, make the state more efficient, raise education standards and so forth.
But these are wish-lists rather than credible proposals. They have not been costed nor has any thought been given to how they would be put into practice. Candidates can get away with this because there seems to be little interest in their policy programmes. In fact, even in the television debates the candidates have failed to say anything about each other’s election programme, as if they all have the same plans and objectives. It could be that nobody, not even the candidates, takes these very seriously.
On Monday, Akel candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis, who has made high prices a main theme of his campaign, presented his proposals for helping people cope. He will promote the installation of photovoltaics in all houses, with the state covering 100 per cent of the cost in some cases, reduce VAT on electricity bills from 19 to 9 per cent for the duration of the economic crisis, scrap double taxations on fuel and upgrade public means of transport.
He failed to say, however, how these commendable measures – which would reduce the state’s tax revenue and increase its spending – be funded. Will he increase income tax, cut state spending on other items in order to fund the measures that will help people deal with prices? Or will he follow the Christofias presidency’s ‘spend, spend, spend’ philosophy?
Mavroyiannis is not the only one who promises measures without giving any thought to how he would fund them. They all do it. Perhaps now we are entering the final part of the election campaign, candidates will be made to explain how they will fund their policy proposals. This may also rouse some voter interest in the campaigning.