AFTER a year-long election campaign, we have mercifully reached the final stretch. After today, there will just be another six days left and on the seventh we will have a new Prez of the Kyproulla Republic. No campaign for four years, unless the new Prez kicks the bucket and we have to elect someone sooner than we would like.
This is the 14th presidential election (counting the supplementary election after Makarios’ death), and fittingly there are 14 candidates, the most ever, even though seven of them are standing for fun and would not be expecting to get votes from outside their family circle or beyond the boundaries of their village (neighbourhood if they are town dwellers).
Then there are three independent candidates who have mounted credible campaigns, against all odds, and will consider it a success if they secure three per cent of the vote today, given their modest budgets, exclusion from most election debates on TV and marginalising by the mainstream media. The election was never going to be a level playing field.
This leaves us with the three big boys that are backed by the parties even though two of them insist they are independents, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Any two of them could make it to next Sunday’s run-off.
IF IT IS Christodoulides and Mavroyiannis it will be the contest of the public parasites of the foreign ministry, the ministry that has done more than any state institution to prevent a settlement of the Cyprob. Both candidates were at the side of Prez Nik assisting him in obliterating the best ever opportunity for a settlement in Crans Montana, loyally supporting his twisted narrative of what had happened.
Mavroyiannis changed this narrative once he became the Akel candidate and turned from hawk to dove. Christodoulides could not do this as he is the candidate of the hard-line parties and has also persuaded bash-patriots that do not belong to parties that he will fight for a settlement that is unattainable and would not affect the status quo.
AN AVEROF – Christodoulides run-off will be a showdown of the Paphites and we would be guaranteed a hillbilly prez for the first time since Makarios, under whose authoritarian, 17-year rule we lost a third of the country to Turkey, but carried on feting him as a great leader for decades after he was gone.
The late Archbishop Chrysostomos, in one of his last interviews, described Christodoulides as the new Makarios and he meant it is a compliment rather than a warning. Christodoulides is from Yeroskipou, which is on the outskirts of Paphos, whereas Averof is from Argaka, a village in the back of beyond.
Nikos poses as the urbane Paphitos, who owns 6,000 books and claims to be an academic, which he is not, but is perfectly consistent with his phoniness, whereas Averof does not have any such illusions. He is the genuine Paphitos, the real McCoy, and therefore less dangerous.
As they say in my village, you can take the man out of Paphos but you can’t take Paphos out of the man, no matter how sophisticated he pretends to be.
THE MOST attractive duel would be between the Mavroyiannis and Averof, primarily because it would have eliminated the danger of the urbane Paphite becoming prez.
It would also be the customary Akel v Disy contest that has featured in six out of the last seven run-off elections, of which the commies only won two. It would also spark some good old-fashioned polarisation and viciousness that has been singularly lacking from the election campaign so far.
Poor old Mavroyiannis will be handicapped by the fact that he is the candidate of Akel, which most sensible people would not like to see having anything to do with the running of the economy. He will however play up the government corruption of the last 10 years, in which Averof cannot claim he was an innocent bystander.
By the same logic, Mavroyiannis would be unable to claim he was an innocent bystander as Prez Nik led the Cypob to the two-state solution.
I HAVE no intention of advising readers who to vote for today, because I admit I have lost the authority to do this.
I disqualified myself from ever doing this again after backing Prez Nik in 2013, even though there were mitigating circumstances – the alternatives were the self-serving, mega-opportunist Giorgos Lillikas, and the nonentity Stavros Malas, chosen by Akel as a reliable loser. Nevertheless, I still nurse a guilty conscience.
I have realised that, thanks to my anti-authority mindset, I am much better at offering negative advice, like who people should not vote for. I feel I have been proved right every time I have offered negative advice. In 2003 I urged people not to vote for Ethnarch Tassos, in 2008 I took very strong stance against Comrade Tof and in 2018 I was anti-Prez Nik.
My not so humble opinion was correct every time, which is why I have decided to concentrate on my strengths rather than try to offer a balanced view of the candidates.
CHRISTODOULIDES is unfit to be president because he is the biggest phoney of Kyproulla politics, a man who believes in nothing except the presidential chair, which he will do and say anything he has to in order to sit his bum in. He has learnt one thing from his political mentor, Prez Nik, that you can fool most of the people all the time (and many journalists if you flatter them systematically), something that is reflected in his good showing in the opinion polls.
He lies regularly, even though he loves to sermonise about ethical behaviour, milked the system as a state official for personal gain even though he poses as Mr Clean, refuses to answer uncomfortable questions while advocating transparency, states that he will not attack his rivals while paying people to throw dirt at them on social media, and claims he is an academic, despite spending his career at the foreign ministry.
This is the man who has been advocating unity while splitting his party, Disy, which he claims to be loyal to, in pursuit of his presidential ambition, the only thing he really believes in. He is an independent candidate who at the same time is the Diko-Edek-Dipa candidate.
THE LATEST example of his brazen lying was provided on Friday night’s TV debate when Yiannis Kareklas told him that in a previous TV interview he had advocated that Cyprob negotiations would start from scratch. “Did I say such a thing?” asked a supposedly bewildered Christodoulides, before saying: “I urge you, we have time, to give instructions to Sigma to find the film and show this. What you mentioned I have never said.”
In the clip from the interview Kareklas was talking about, that was posted on social media subsequently the following exchange took place: “You are prepared to start negotiations from scratch?” he was twice asked. “Of course,” he responded.
ON FRIDAY night’s TV debate, in which he adopted his usual air of moral superiority, he was asked about the €200,000 his campaign fund received from Columbia Shipmanagement and claimed that the issue was in violation of his personal data.
Voters should be kept in the dark about the sources of a candidate’s funding, especially when a single donor contributes 20 per cent of the money a candidate is legally entitled to spend on his election campaign. This of course undermined another myth sold by him – that his campaign would be financed by crowdfunding.
Mavroyiannis and Averof both gave information about the funding of their campaign on the show, but Christodoulides wanted to do things by the book – the law stipulated that a candidate had to give accounts of the campaign to the auditor-general, after the elections, and this was what he would do. Why the secrecy? The must be more crowds like Columbia funding his campaign that he does not want voters to know about quite yet.
WE HAVE reported how he has been milking the system – sending his daughters to the most expensive private school in Kyproulla at the taxpayer’s expense, even though he has been based here for 10 years. When asked about this, he took the moral high ground, saying a candidate’s children should not be involved in the campaign. In January, when he submitted his candidacy, he was nominated by his eldest daughter, proving that a candidate’s children should not be involved in the campaign.
Should I mention how this morally superior candidate was paid four months’ overseas allowance from the foreign ministry, amounting to about 16 grand, which he was not legally entitled to because he was based in Kyproulla at the time? He never returned the cash.
Or should I mention that as foreign minister he was inviting community leaders and other village bigwigs to the foreign ministry, offering them lunch, which we paid for, in order to secure their support in the elections? This was while he was categorically stating that he had not decided whether he would stand in the presidential elections.
If this guy milked the system so crudely from the time he was just a ministry official, what will he do to the state if he ever becomes president?
I HAVE run out of space to go into how he is at the beck and call of Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Details about this, next week. For now, I will just warn that Kyproulla’s relations with Moscow could be upgraded to a similar level as those enjoyed by Belarus if he is elected.