All the traditional political parties came out bruised from EU parliamentary elections on Sunday, while Cyprus echoed the EU generally by electing far-right nationalists Elam to a seat at the table in Strasbourg.

Cyprus, following trends of recent parliamentary elections in the country and those in Europe in general, gave one of the six seats to Elam party spokesman Geadis Geadi, while another went to independent Cypriot youtuber Fidias Panayiotou, who took a whopping 19.4 per cent of the vote or 71,330 votes.

“Here, we are dealing with a purely personal phenomenon, without a party attached. This is a step further, it is an innovative element, we have not seen it before. It is entirely person-centred,” Panayiotou told jubilant supporters at a victory gathering in Eleftheria square in Nicosia.

Elam had the largest increase in votes of all parties, receiving specifically 18,048 more votes than in 2019, increasing its share by 2.95 per cent (11.2 per cent from 8.25 per cent).

These results come in contrast with 2019’s EU parliamentary results, despite turnout in elections being higher by 13.87 per cent.

In 2019 it was 44.99 per cent, while on Sunday turnout was 58.86 per cent.

Cypris Panayiotou celebrates with supporters

Despite the increased voter participation, the two big parties in Cyprus – right-wing Disy and left-wing Akel –both recorded significant losses, while Edek lost the one MEP seat it had held since 2009. Other parties merely limped by.

In an opinion piece for the Cyprus Times, journalist Manolis Kalatzis summed it up: “Disy wounded, Akel in intensive care, Diko in a coma, Edek in its death throes.”

As far as the two major parties are concerned, even though Disy received 9,777 more votes than in 2019 on a nationwide basis, it recorded a drop of 4.22 per cent (24.8 per cent from 29.02 per cent), while retaining its two seats.

The percentage drop was greater for Akel, with the left party, despite being voted for by 1,922 more voters than in 2019, recording the biggest percentage drop of all parties, a drop of 5.99 per cent (21.5 per cent from 27.49 per cent), which also led to the loss of one of its two seats. In the process Akel lost Turkish Cypriot Niyazi Kizilyurek who had been elected MEP in 2019.

It should be noted that this is the first time since 2004 and the first European elections in which the Republic of Cyprus participated that one of the two major parties, in this case Akel, will be represented by one and not two MEPs.

Meanwhile, the centre political parties also suffered heavy losses in the elections, with Edek being considered one of the big losers of the elections as it lost more than half of the percentage it received in 2019 and the seat it secured in the three previous European elections (2009, 2014 and 2019). Specifically, Edek lost 11,034 votes or 5.48 per cent (5.1 per cent from 10.58 per cent) and is considered as one of the big losers of the elections.

Centre-right Diko also recorded large losses, but it retained the one seat it has been securing continuously since the 2004 European elections. In particular, Diko received 2,941 fewer votes than in 2019, which translates into a percentage drop of 4.1 per cent (9.7 per cent from 13.8 per cent).

Depa and the Greens also recorded significant losses.

The Volt party, which is running for the first time, had 10,777 votes, which translates to 2.9 per cent.

Elam, a party considered the sister party of Greece’s now outlawed ‘Golden Dawn’, is the only party that managed to increase both the number of votes and the percentage of votes received in Sunday’s election compared to 2019, occupying for the first time one of the six Cypriot seats in the European parliament.

However, it is generally accepted that Fidias also negatively affected Elam, limiting in the end the momentum that the party seemed to show in the polls of the last weeks before the elections.

When compared to the previous European Parliament elections, it is evident that Panayiotou’s win adversely affected all parties but also that the increased turnout – combined with the increase in the electorate – also worked negatively in relation to the final percentages recorded by all parties.

According to Hubert Faustmann, professor of history and political science at the University of Nicosia, the takeaways from Sunday’s elections are further political fragmentation and polarisation between the left and right of the political spectrum.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, he said these trends can be tracked here in Cyprus as well, where for the first time an independent candidate got elected without any party backing or political baggage – alluding to the 24-year-old influencer Panayiotou.

Although the political system in Cyprus – compared to elsewhere in Europe – remained fairly stable throughout the financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, at the same time there has been a growing trend of disaffected voters. Up until now, this group usually opted to abstain, while many turned to Elam to cast their ‘protest vote’.

But this time around the disaffected had another option – Panayiotou.

“Fidias is the symptom of widespread discontent with the established parties, which nominated unconvincing candidates,” said Faustmann. “If you look at the results, it’s a clear protest vote…and Fidias embodies that protest vote, albeit one without content.”

The analyst said that European Parliament elections present voters with an excellent opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the political system, and to do so with less inhibition than they would in presidential or legislative elections where they might feel the stakes are higher.

“At least 30 per cent of the electorate has grown tired of the established parties, which have no inspiring politicians to offer,” added Faustmann.