Two high-profile resignations have highlighted the disunity within the Cyprus Green party

By Efi Xanthou

Last week the political scene was jolted by a series of resignations in the Cyprus Greens-Citizens Cooperation party.

First, its MP Alexandra Attalides threw in the towel and then, only one day later, the party leader Charalambos Theopemptou sent in his own resignation. Whilst Theopemptou only resigned as party leader – he remains a MP – and gave no public reason for his decision, a clear connection is made that Attalides’ resignation affected his decision.

Attalides has given a very detailed account of why she resigned from the party, namely that the party did not support the same policies that the European Green Party supported and that party representatives expressed themselves in ways that conflicted with the principles and values of Green politicians. She also stated that promises were made that a new political platform would be decided upon after the conclusion of the 2021 parliamentary elections, since the party had entered that election campaign with the positions decided upon in December 2019. She also stressed that she and another two candidate MPs that had joined the Cyprus Greens ticket in 2021 had noted that the party’s positions regarding the Cyprus problem did not represent them and they would not be committed by them.

As for Theopemptou, having not given a reason publicly yet for his resignation, one can only speculate that his decision is connected to Attalides’ resignation and the upheaval that the whole situation had created for some time. He will focus on the work he has promised to deliver in the House of Representatives as he is the president of the House environmental committee, which is tasked with debating and pushing through very difficult and complicated legislative proposals within a very tight schedule.

The party now has to focus on how to clear its tainted image and ensure it continues to define itself as a true partner of the European Green Party. Though no official position of the party has ever clashed with principles of its European family, the fact that the straw that broke the camel’s back were the objections voiced by some party officials concerning the joint legislative proposal of Theopemptou and Attalides giving adoption rights to civil partnership couples (thus including LGBTQI couples) creates a very conservative picture. If the Greens don’t address this issue head on and make their political positions clear to the voters, the party’s future may be on the line.

A new political platform needs to be presented before the elections on June 9, 2024, when the island will not only elect its six new MEPs but also its representatives at local government level. The positions of 2019 are already five years old, and many new issues have arisen since then on which the party needs to make clear its opinion. But what is more important is that since 2021, when the party’s projected 7-9 per cent election result fell to a mere 4.2 per cent, political analysts have been saying that the party needed to clarify its positions to the general public as the party’s position on the Cyprus problem was muddled by the various MP candidates comments to the media.

Moreover, since 2022 when the party pushed through a legislative proposal, making sexual education mandatory at all levels of public education, they have had to fight internal reactions from party officials who did not agree with the new legislation.

Though internal power struggles and hot-headedness should be nothing new in political parties, the fast sequence of events, the abrupt shift of the party’s legislative presence and the reduction of party representatives that remain available to fight for a position in the new House of Representatives in in 2026, all jeopardise the party’s existence. The party only gained three MPs in 2021, and two of these were won by non-party members. One of them has now resigned, stating that essentially she had been tricked when agreeing to run for office under the Green’s banner. It will therefore be an uphill battle to convince new outside players to run on the Green ticket again.

A new party leader will be elected on December 3 who will aim to bridge differences and refocus the party on the prize of the upcoming elections, both in 2024 and 2026. But if they don’t manage to get their act together, the Cyprus Greens-Citizens Cooperation will probably not enter the House of Representatives in 2026.

Efi Xanthou is a political scientist and the interior committee coordinator of the Cyprus Greens-Citizens Cooperation