Everyone will be waiting for the decision of the Disy political bureau, which will meet on Tuesday evening, as this could have a big impact on the outcome of Sunday’s vote for the new president of republic that will be contested by Nikos Christodoulides and Andreas Mavroyiannis.
This is only the second time in the last eight presidential elections that the Disy candidate – Averof Neophytou – failed to make it to the second Sunday run-off. The only other time was 2003 when there was no run-off, Tassos Papadopoulos having secured 51.51 per cent of the vote. Then as now, there were two candidates vying for the Disy vote, although in 2003 the unofficial Disy candidate Alecos Markides had not struck a deal with other parties as Christodoulides had done.
Disy, being the biggest party, unlike Edek and Diko, has no experience of engaging in the horse-trading that often takes place between the first and second Sunday of the presidential elections, yet this is the position it now finds itself in. It has the dilemma of either backing Christodoulides, who stood against his own party and defeated the Disy candidate, or Mavroyiannis, the candidate of Akel, which is seen as the old enemy.
President Nicos Anastasiades, in meetings he had with the Disy leadership on Sunday night and Monday morning, made it clear he wanted the party to back Christodoulides, who had served as his government spokesman and foreign minister, but his proposal, understandably, was not well-received. There is a lot of anger in Disy about Christodoulides’ behaviour – he completely ignored his party’s decision about the elections and stood as a so-called independent, backed by opposition parties, Edek, Diko and Dipa, and plundered Disy votes, dealing a big blow to Neophytou’s candidacy.
The Disy leadership and most government ministers were of the view that such behaviour should not be rewarded with the backing of the party in the run-off. They made this displeasure clear by walking out of the meeting with Anastasiades on Sunday night; some ministers did not show up to Monday morning’s meeting to underline their displeasure with the president who had said he had already been in talks with Christodoulides about the possibility of ministries being given to Disy.
It seems Disy is determined not to let Anastasiades and Christodoulides have their way, but what is the alternative. Could the political bureau decide to back the Akel candidate in the run-off? There has never been an electoral deal between Akel and Disy and it seems highly unlikely this would happen now, even though Mavroyiannis has never been an Akel member and his politics are centre-right. It would be difficult to sell such a deal to the party rank and file, which has always seen Akel as the party’s traditional, political foe.
Under the circumstances, although a deal could prove a game-changer, the Disy political bureau will most probably opt for the safer option of sitting on the fence and allowing its members to vote as they please. It just cannot take a stand in favour of the man who caused so much damage to the party, even if this is Anastasiades’ wish.