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Our View: Disy in desperate need of an identity

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Disy leader Annita Demetriou addressing the latest Disy party conference

Annita Demetriou, the leader of Disy and President of the House, has the highest approval rating among politicians. She is the only politician that more than 50 per cent of the population sees positively, according to an opinion poll carried out by Red Wolf PR & Advertising. The positive perception of Demetriou was 53 per cent while the closest to her was the Akel chief Stefanos Stefanou with just 35 per cent; the Greens’ chief Giorgos Perdikis scored 30 per cent.

It is quite a remarkable showing, considering that during her short time as leader, Disy has been deeply divided and has lost its bearings. The in-fighting has been raging with major disagreements over the party’s candidacies for the mayoral elections and a major fallout over the European Parliament elections which led to the resignation of one of its vice-presidents, who wanted to stand but was not selected by the political bureau. Former party leader Averof Neophytou also publicly criticised the party leadership for its choice of candidates in the municipal elections.

And to make matters worse, former president Nicos Anastasiades, who still exerts influence over Disy, wants to turn the party into the defender of his presidency, demanding that it has a policy of responding to criticism of his government and his decisions. At least his efforts to force the party to move closer to the new president have been resisted by Demetriou and some members of the leadership team.

That she has survived all the in-fighting and meddling and is still perceived positively by the majority of people is an achievement. Perhaps her position as House president, a relatively undemanding role, has helped her public standing, but ultimately it is the party leadership that will test her abilities. So far, she has acted as a unifying force, trying to maintain the balances between the rival factions, but at some point she also has to give the party direction. She cannot utter platitudes indefinitely.

What does Disy stand for today? It can no longer talk about the pragmatic approach to the Cyprus problem of its founder Glafcos Clerides because this is of no interest to the new generation of voters, not to mention that it has now entered its endgame. Disy needs an identity, which it lost backing the expediencies of Anastasiades for ten years. Does the party have any positions on the economy, the public sector, public education, health, migration? If it does they are not very clear and this is what Demetriou should be focusing on now if she wants the party to have a future. Diko and Edek have seen their support steadily decline because, apart from their hard line on the Cyprus problem, which counts for very little today, they have no political positions, going with the flow.

This is what will happen to Disy if Demetriou does not impose a political identity on the party and stop it being dragged in different directions by self-serving members. This cannot be achieved with platitudes and being nice to everyone.

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Source: Cyprus News Agency