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Our View: Neophytou’s proposal of an open dialogue with citizens is rather bizarre

Συνέντευξη στο ΚΥΠΕ υποψήφιος Αβέρωφ Νεοφύτου
Ex-Disy leader Averof Neophytou

Disy candidate, Averof Neophytou, on Friday, came up with the rather bizarre idea, calling on his fellow candidates for “an open dialogue with citizens.” He described this as “a debate of the people, in a festival of democracy, in which citizens would freely ask, interrogate and also compare the candidates and their political programmes.” He wanted Cyprus to be a “pioneer” in this regard, but gave no explanation about the logistics of such an undertaking.

For instance, where would this debate of the people take place? In a town square, in a football stadium, in a theatre, a television studio? And how many citizens would be allowed to participate in this dialogue – 100, 500, 3,000 or 10,000 – for it to qualify as a festival of democracy? And of these people who would be allowed to ask questions and to whom? How many hours will this debate last and which of the 14 candidate will be allowed to be present in this tower of Babel?

We can be asking questions until tomorrow about how such an event would take place. Perhaps Neophytou has all the answers, having worked out the logistics, but more likely is he has presented the idea without an actual plan, because other candidates, assuming they agree with it, would also have a say on how this would be put into practice. But such an event could not possibly be organized in a week, which is the time remaining before the elections. The representatives of the campaign teams, realistically speaking, would have needed months to agree how such a debate would take place.

It is very doubtful any of the main candidates would agree to such a debate; they might not even respond to Neophytou’s suggestion. The Disy candidate is probably aware there would be no takers and would be able to use this against his rival, accusing them of being afraid of an open dialogue. “Nobody, I believe, has anything to hide or be afraid of,” he said in his invitation, adding, “after all, we all cite citizens and society.”

Yes, they all do, but we all know this is meaningless, as society is not a homogenous whole that has a single purpose and not all citizens value or want the same things. It is doubtful they all want an honest state or the elimination of corrupt practices, as there are many who benefit from these. But we have been sold this yarn about listening to the citizens and to society by all the candidates. Nicos Christodoulides has gone as far as to claim that his electoral programme was drafted after many consultations with citizens and if elected he would hear the citizens before taking decisions… all 500,000 of them.

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