Diko is proud to have played a decisive role in the “selection, support and election of Nikos Christodoulides to the presidency of the Republic,” party leader Nicholas Papadopoulos said on Sunday at the party’s political congress.

He said in the presidential elections Diko had backed “an independent candidate who was not part of the traditional political system”.

Addressing Christodoulides, who was at the event, Papadopoulos said “if you did not stand in these elections, we should have invented you, because you are the president that the country needs right now.”

The choice of the party, he continued, has been vindicated because in just 75 days of government, the Christodoulides government has dealt “with all the important challenges facing the country and has already presented remarkable work”.

These included reaching an agreement over CoLA, the ‘household basket’, zero VAT on specific basic items and goods, and the plan for the demolition and reconstruction of dangerous refugee apartment buildings.

Diko is ready to support the Christodoulides government in the implementation of its programme, Papadopoulos said.

He said that “the traditional political establishment”, meaning Disy and Akel, has not yet accepted that for the first time in the political history of Cyprus, an independent candidate won the presidential elections against the two largest parties and while they understand the bitterness and anger that may exist in some, space and time must be given to achieve the necessary political partnerships.

Diko, meanwhile, is modernising itself and is ready to play a leading role in Cyprus’ political events, he added, saying the event itself represents a new beginning for the party and the difficult decisions of previous years, “which we were forced to take to pull our country out of bankruptcy, had a political cost and brought inevitable electoral impact”.

ΠτΔ – Συνέδριο ΔΗΚΟ // por – diko conference

Diko leader Nicholas Papadopoulos and President Nikos Christodoulides entering the event

The party, he said, was also forced to examine itself after “the bad result of the last parliamentary elections”.

Papadopoulos also said that they understood after an honest internal party evaluation that they must be more effective in producing policy, establish two-way communication with the party’s base and be open to new ideas taking into account the wants and expectations of society: “To be less concerned with ourselves and to be much more concerned with what people are asking of us”.

As such constitutional changes have been proposed by the central committee, that would allow citizens to get involved without having to hold a party position.

He also said they will institutionalise decision-making through party referenda in which all party members can participate, utilising modern technology.

He said the party understands that a new development model is needed for the economy with emphasis on innovation, research, technology and the provision of services, energy, defence, health, e-government and the environment. On migration, he said Diko supports the creation of a deputy ministry of migration to which all the necessary services for the management of the issue should be transferred, with emphasis on the return policy and the upgrading of infrastructure and accommodation facilities for asylum seekers.

“Upgrading our geostrategic role and establishing regional alliances must be a priority of our foreign policy,” he added.

Diko vice president Antonis Antoniou said online surveys of Diko party member have already begun, with the latest showing 85 per cent back the creation of a deputy ministry of migration, and the same number agreed with a proposal to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.