The two major parties must work together
By Christos Panayiotides
I confess that I am not a fan of electoral polls because they disorientate the election process by defocusing the pre-election debates away from the critical problems confronting the country, and away from the action plans proposed by the candidates for dealing with them.
An added concern is that they necessarily rely on a sample of about 1,000 voters, compared with a voting population of some 550,000 people. Even if we presume that the sample has in fact been chosen randomly, the poll findings inevitably contain a statistical error that can easily exceed a ±3% margin. This margin may be mentioned when introducing the poll, but then is set aside and effectively ignored.
Despite these reservations, it now seems likely that we will be forced to go to the polling stations on both February 5 and 12, and in the second round one of the two candidates will be Nikos Christodoulides while the other will be either Averof Neophytou or Andreas Mavroyiannis.
It is also now clear that in relation to the Cyprus problem, Nikos Christodoulides and the parties that support him are all “rejectionists” and in substance are all advocates of the partition of Cyprus. Averof Neophytou (supported by Disy) and Andreas Mavroyiannis (supported by Akel) are advocates of reunification on condition that the umbilical cord, which connects economically and politically the northern part of Cyprus with Turkey, is severed.
Either for reasons of self-interest, or because they feel that they are unable to cope with Turkey, or on purely racist grounds, it is well known that Nikos Christodoulides’ supporters favour the slogan “we stick on this side, and they stick on the other”. Of course, every intelligent Cypriot understands that this simplistic approach shows a dangerously high level of political naivety. The supporters of this school of thought are literally contradicting themselves, given that they themselves rightly claim that Turkey’s long-term goal is the annexation of the whole of Cyprus. The adoption of the slogan will certainly allow some shrewd patriots to carry on milking Cyprus for their own benefit, while helping Turkey’s aims to occupy and ‘Turkify’ the whole of Cyprus.
This is, indeed, what is at stake in the presidential elections: Reunification or partition.
The three major, largely interlinked issues that comprised the essence of the pre-election debates were (a) the Cyprus problem, (b) corruption and (c) the economy. On corruption, the views of the two major parties and their candidates are absolutely identical, since they have pledged in writing that, if elected, they will promptly implement the Pissarides-Panayiotides-Syrimis proposal for combating corruption and collusion amongst politically exposed persons. On the Cyprus problem, their stand is also very much identical.
Differences do exist over the economy, but they are not as large as they are made to appear for the purpose of attracting voters from the right and the left. After all, Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and is in the Eurozone, and it is therefore committed to adhere to the economic rules prescribed by the European Union and in particular the European Central Bank.
No objective observer could convincingly argue that the differences separating the two major political parties over the economy are unbridgeable. The cooperation of the two parties on an issue of great national importance, namely a threat against the very survival of the country, is dictated by common sense. It is dictated by the national interest. The Cyprus problem has reached a turning point. If the problem is not resolved peacefully, the very survival of both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities will be threatened.
If, in the second round of the presidential elections, the coordinator and representative of the rejectionists is elected as president of Cyprus, the government is likely to end up consisting of Nicolas Papadopoulos, Christiana Erotokritou, Marios Garoyian, Marinos Sizopoulos, Eleni Theocharous, Zacharias Koulias, Andreas Themistokleous, Victor Papadopoulos and, quite possibly, Christos Christou, resulting in the emergence of a new Tower of Babel that will lead the country into a state of total paralysis. Undoubtedly, Nikos Christodoulides’ stubborn refusal to name any member of his cabinet is not accidental. This is a patchwork of failed Cypriot politicians, who are being blindly driven by a passion for power that is sure to lead Cyprus to ruins.
Under these circumstances, the responsibility of the two major and historic parties is enormous. They must rise to the occasion; they must set aside their petty party interests and coordinate their efforts in order to save Cyprus from catastrophe. If Neophytou and Mavroyiannis end up in the second round of the election process, let each party’s supporters vote for their own candidate. If, however, only one of them ends up in the second round against Christodoulides, then the national duty of the one party is to support the other party. Those who undermine such cooperation will be held accountable to history.
Furthermore, given that the two independent candidates, Achilleas Demetriades and Constantinos Christofides, are honest and competent persons, who advocate principles on the Cyprus problem and on corruption that are very similar to those of the two major political parties, their involvement in the government in key positions would strengthen the credibility of the new government and its acceptance by the overwhelming majority of the Cypriot people. Such involvement would act as an additional safeguard that will secure the proper implementation of the pre-election undertakings of the elected candidate.
This is a historic opportunity that should not be missed. This is the opportunity for the two major parties of Cyprus to write history by preventing disaster.
Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail