| Politics |Politis



On Sunday night and Monday, half of Facebook was mourning the impending disaster and the other half was celebrating the ‘5+1’ that our country had just landed. [Translator’s note: latter compares election result to winning the lottery] I’ll start there.

The main conclusion that one can and should, I believe, draw, not only from Sunday’s result but – perhaps even more so – from the year that preceded it, is that we must, finally, at some point, stop looking for messiahs in this country.

Well, to be fair, neither Andreas Mavroyiannis nor Nikos Christodoulides promised as much, and the climate of unprecedented polarisation that marked these elections, even more so after the first round, was a tragic setback which, however, we must not forget, did not occur overnight.

This climate was cultivated and now that we’re done with the elections, those who cultivated it ought to think about what it leaves behind, what service they ultimately provided and what obstacles it will pose for us in the coming years, in particularly hard times. It was clearly something we did not need.

We, the citizens, at least, did not need it.

Those who cultivated it were primarily the losers of Sunday’s elections. And perhaps, in the end, the only losers.

Andreas Mavroyiannis fought with ethos and dignity, and those who surrounded him are certainly among the winners as, although they lost the elections, they took something that was not even a political product and was anything but communicative and managed to deliver a completely different image.

We have never before seen a candidate with an initial support of 12% achieve this.

Along with Andreas Mavroyiannis himself, AKEL [Progressive Party of Working People] and Stefanos Stefanou personally are also winners. While around this time last year, many people, and I’m not referring to the ill-intentioned, were saying that the 2023 presidential elections would mark the tombstone of AKEL, the party not only managed to hold on but also to do unexpectedly well.

Of course, those who believe that this will be maintained and will continue to be the case even if AKEL does not transform into something new and remains a quaint fossil of a bygone era, I think they will soon be in for a surprise. A very painful one indeed.

Nikos Christodoulides, on the other hand, has to navigate a victory which, if not pyrrhic, is one that has certainly been undermined. And perhaps it is better this way. Experience shows that nothing is worse for a leader, especially one who ran with the promise of acting in a transcendent and unifying manner, than a comfortable margin and the air of easy victory. Our new President is called upon in difficult circumstances to prove that he is willing and able to operate within such a collective logic. And he has only a tiny window of opportunity to do so based on Sunday’s result.

The experience gained in the run-up to the elections is certainly encouraging. Nikos Christodoulides was faced with perhaps the fiercest antagonism in the annals of presidential contests, having to deal with all kinds of attacks, but he maintained a mild political discourse without providing additional grounds for attack and without being divisive.

So if his aim is to unite, this suavity and patience will admittedly help him to do so. Given that he is aiming to hold on to the Presidency for a decade and not for five years, I think the new President has no choice but to keep a delicate balance with everyone, avoiding moves in either one direction or the other that would damage the image of consensus that he himself has cultivated and which is anything but a given now that the presidential elections are over.

After all, this is most representative of his career to date.

The Cyprus issue, if something happens to come up from this point onwards, will probably be the best indicator of the extent to which Nikos Christodoulides can move along these lines.

Finally, the darkest chapter was the attitude displayed towards DISY [Democratic Rally] by team Averof, which had from the outset prioritised above all else the personal ambitions of the president of DISY, who had even risked the exclusion of his party in the name of satisfying his own vanity. And even when he lost, he opted to foster a civil war-like climate within DISY, with the toxicity ultimately exposing only him, since seven out of ten in the ranks of DISY did not follow the behind-the-scenes instructions and exhortations to carry out a revenge vote in favour of Andreas Mavroyiannis, which simply sought to salvage Averof. His future was again put above all else. His party’s interests too.

As for the theories about Anastasiades being rescued by the election result, I am afraid that these too are a pre-election myth, in the sense that regardless of who would be elected, the cases for which one could hold [Anastasiades] accountable have been dismissed “for reasons of public interest” or otherwise, with the key to any reversal of the situation being in the hands of his confidant, the attorney general, who personally approved passports and other things as a minister, and in the hands of the deputy attorney general who, in addition to also approving the aforementioned as a minister, also sold passports as a lawyer.

So the possibility of a purge unfortunately vanished long ago, no matter how hard it was played up as an electoral argument. And the elections are over.

Polarisation is something that no rational thinking citizen should allow to pass into the post-election climate. What is needed is criticism, tough but constructive, scrutiny, pressure for things to change, but also avoiding and isolating the toxicity of intolerance and all the other problems that this period has left in its wake.

And it is in the best interest of the country that the new President succeeds. It is not in its interest that the toxic people of all parties and on social media continue to poison the climate and drive it to the point where they get vindicated in their predictions of their loneliness and self-exaltation.

So there is no imminent catastrophe, nor have we discovered a prophet. In fact and under the current circumstances, a very tough five-year term is coming, during which everyone and everything will be judged. The more fairly we judge, the better for the future of us all.

Postscript: The Column will be away for a week.


Costas Constantinou was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. He studied at the University of Vienna and, since returning to Cyprus, has worked as a journalist and columnist in various media - newspapers, television, radio and magazines.

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