We may have a unique opportunity to achieve the political climate Cyprus so badly needs

In the aftermath of the first round of the presidential elections, many political analysts provided their own interpretation of what has happened. Some of these interpretations were totally off-tangent. I suspect that the analysis they provided was more a tool of political manipulation, rather than a meaningful assessment of the results. The table below reflects these results:


Given that both the size of the electorate and the abstention rate in the first round of the 2 elections of 2023 and 2018 differed to a very small extent, the results of these elections are comparable and, in my opinion, clearly reflect the consequences of the defection of Nikos Christodoulides from the ranks of the Democratic Rally (Disy) and the ramming of the largest political party in Cyprus by the rejectionist parties of the “centre”.

As shown in the table, the percentage of votes that the former career diplomat, government spokesman and foreign minister managed to grab from Disy was limited to 4.1 per cent of all valid ballots. This percentage is not insignificant, but clearly it was not sufficient to cause a split of Disy, as the proponents of the partition of Cyprus had hoped. If, in fact, one takes into consideration (a) the support given to Nikos Christodoulides by the outgoing president of the Republic, (b) the damage caused to the image of the government by the “golden passports” scandal, (c) the frustration that has been caused by the imminent partition of Cyprus and (d) the inevitable popularity losses of a government that has been in power for a decade, the net percentage of Disy votes that the presidential candidate supported by Diko, Depa, Edek and Theocharous has managed to grab, ended up being relatively insignificant, given that the overall net increase in the strength of the dismissive parties, which support Nikos Christodoulides, was confined to 4.1 per cent.

It is noted that Andreas Mavroyiannis matched the percentage of Stavros Malas, with a slight decrease (from 30.2 to 29.6 per cent), while Elam maintained its strength at 6 per cent.

The remaining losses of Disy (in addition to the 4.1 per cent gained by Nikos Christodoulides with his defection) were of the order of 5.4 per cent and were channeled – for the reasons mentioned above – to the three truly independent candidates, namely Achilleas Demetriades, Konstantinos Christofides and Georgios Colocassides, all of whom – admittedly – fought an honest, but unequal battle. Under these circumstances, the election result attained by Disy in the first round of the presidential elections constitutes, in my opinion, an impressive success.

As you already know, the decision of the Democratic Rally is to urge party members and friends to vote in the second round of the presidential elections “according to their conscience”. I consider this recommendation to be correct and appropriate, because it implies respect for the party supporters, who certainly do not make up a “herd” that can be manipulated. I regret to point out that this duty of respect has not been shown by the outgoing president of the Republic, who rushed to rally in support of Christodoulides and went as far as to state that he managed to “secure from Christodoulides a commitment to allocate to Disy a number of front benches”.

It goes without saying that I do not have the right to recommend, let alone to direct you, as to which of the two candidates you should vote for on Sunday. However, I can tell you that I will vote for Andreas Mavroyiannis, for the following reasons:

  1. I believe that the much-heralded “inclusiveness” of Nikos Christodoulides will lead – with absolute certainty – to internal conflicts between the parties that support him, with the consequent paralysis of the government or the adoption of contradictory policies that will further complicate the already complicated problems that Cyprus is currently facing; particularly in the field of the reunification of our homeland. It is well known that the rejectionist parties that support Nikos Christodoulides are in favour of the “we stick on this side and they stick on the other side” approach and envision the realisation of this idea, either in a two sovereign state arrangement, possibly within the framework of a confederation that could easily be dissolved, or with the tacit perpetuation of the faits accomplis on the ground, with the false hope that things will not get worse. The participation of Disy in the government of Nikos Christodoulides would have rendered this party co-responsible for the catastrophe that will ensue. Mr Christodoulides has served in key positions that had a significant impact on the Cyprus problem, for more than a decade. He, along with everyone else who has been flirting with the two sovereign state arrangement, has led Cyprus into the impasse we are experiencing today. The deflection that marked the presidential elections we are going through, clearly points to the absence of morality on the part of the protagonists of this distasteful game. Personally, I feel that I cannot put the future of my country in the hands of a deserter, who is supported by a patchwork of people hungry for power and for opportunities for easy enrichment.
  2. The adoption on the part of Disy of the role of a serious and responsible opposition will definitely help in taking difficult decisions, without the need to resort to the well-known rüşvet (bribing) approach that has proved so popular with the self-labelled Cyprus ‘centrist’ parties, in the past. These are the parties which have always claimed the role of “the regulator of the political scene” and always remain keen to play this role for their own benefit and enrichment. These are the parties, which currently support Mr Christodoulides.
  3. At this stage, the governance of the country by a politically colourless president, who enjoys a positive attitude on the part of the two major historical parties of Cyprus (with Akel supporting the president and Disy serving the role of a constructive and responsible opposition) could be a form of transcendence that we have not experienced in Cyprus, in the past. This could be the road that will lead to the attainment of the desired political consensus and cooperation that will be founded on a solid basis of converging positions and will secure the desired consensus and co-operation in practice, rather than in words. Even the most naïve person knows that the desired convergence of the political forces of Cyprus will not be achieved by applying the ‘Procrustes’ methodology. Only if the two major parties of Cyprus abandon their tendency to label ‘black’ whatever their political opponents label ‘white’, and vice versa, can we hope that we will get out of the impasse we are currently in. As things turned out, we may have, today, a unique opportunity to achieve the political climate that Cyprus so badly needs and deserves.

With these thoughts in mind, I believe that Disy has demonstrated a high level of political insight and political courage. It has shown real patriotism. The refusal to succumb to the blackmailing dilemmas posed by the defector and his companions, has solemnly confirmed the fact that Disy is a party that truly adheres to principles. Both Mr Mavroyiannis and Akel, which supports him, must reciprocate. We must give them the opportunity to prove in practice that they are inspired by the same patriotism. The initial signs are very encouraging.

Christos Panayiotides is a regular columnist for the Cyprus Mail, Sunday Mail and Alithia