Wednesday September 17, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
28o C
21o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A Cypriot election for the record books

From left to right, Nicos Anastasiades, Stavros Malas and Yorgos Lillikas.

By George Georgakopoulos

With freshly reprinted ballot papers, upon the insistence of Guinness World Records Ltd, Cyprus is bracing for a presidential election on Sunday that will be more closely watched than any other on the Eastern Mediterranean island ever before, given the Pan-European interest in the course of its economy, the recent discovery of natural gas reserves and the seemingly never-ending problem of the island’s partition.

Never before has the international community been so interested in the now-troubled Cypriot economy, fearing it might trigger a eurozone domino effect. The man to take the country's helm for the next five years is certain to attract significant attention and exposure.

The cash-strapped island state, which is desperate to remain in the eurozone for political, financial and defense reasons, will soon have a new president as incumbent Dimitris Christofias has become the first president of the Republic of Cyprus not to seek re-election.

Regarding his decision to step aside, Christofias – the Kyrenia-born politician who was the first leader of former communist party AKEL to become president – has cited the fact that prior to his election in 2008 he had pledged he would not stand for the post again if there was no progress in the Cyprus reunification process during his term in office, and there wasn't. His critics say that had he decided to stand this time, he would get a record low share of the vote after failing to prevent the economy from careering towards bankruptcy, and to avoid the tragedy at the Mari naval base near Larnaca in the summer of 2011, when 13 people were killed as stored explosives detonated.

The first round on Sunday will involve 11 candidates, with one clear front-runner, Nicos Anastasiades, and two others aspiring to make the runoff a week later, Stavros Malas and Giorgos Lillikas. All opinion polls indicate that conservative DISY party leader Anastasiades will be the winner on Sunday, though not with the outright majority that would see him elected from the first round. In the runoff, polls say he will face former AKEL minister Malas, unless Lillikas, a foreign and trade minister under the late previous president, Tassos Papadopoulos, upsets the odds.

Either way, Anastasiades is not only the polls’ favorite, but will also be the preferred choice for Cyprus’s eurozone peers, as he is the most eager among the main candidates to agree to the much-needed bailout under the terms that the European Commission and the European Central Bank will set for Nicosia.

An experienced politician who is backed in this election by conservative DISY as well as centrist DIKO, 66-year-old Anastasiades is an advocate of neoliberal policies in the economy, reducing the power of the unions, and is keen on following the policies prescribed by Brussels. He is in favor of restarting negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots from where Christofias left off, but toward a rather loose bizonal, bicommunal federation and with the involvement of Ankara in the talks. He is not opposed to a private company probing the Cypriot credit sector for money laundering, as the Eurogroup recently decided, but said he would not sign a bailout agreement that would involve a haircut on bank deposits.

Of all the candidates, he appears to be best prepared to take over from Christofias. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras rushed to his support in Cyprus a few weeks ago; understandable, given that they all are members of the European People’s Party.

Malas, a former health minister under Christofias, was picked by AKEL as the face-saving solution to represent an increasingly unpopular party after five years in government. The 45-year-old favors the continuation of Christofias’s policy in the peace talks, with a bizonal federation with the Turkish Cypriots that would have a strong central government with a rotating presidency shared between ethnic Greeks and Turks.

He says the decision for a private firm to check the credit sector for money laundering can and should be reversed, and he pledges to reluctantly sign the bailout agreement in the hope that terms can be amended in the future for the sake of workers. He is counting on the support of AKEL, but polls show that many of its voters may well choose to stay at home on Sunday.

If a significant number of them do stay at home, Malas may miss out on the runoff as support for independent candidate Lillikas has been increasing in recent weeks. Originally seen as the man who could gather support from all parties other than the main ones (DISY and AKEL), the 52-year-old has only secured the official backing of EDEK, the socialist party that usually comes fourth in Cypriot parliamentary elections. However, he commands support from virtually all parties, including more than half of DIKO voters. A Lillikas success may well bring about a split or a leadership change in DIKO.

Generally, Lillikas is a hardliner who favors restarting talks with Turkey from scratch, having been one of the strongest critics of the UN-backed plan for reunification that the Greek Cypriots rejected in 2004. He told Kathimerini last month that he would opt for a federal state along the lines of the US or Germany, instead of a bizonal federation, and calls for the securitization of natural gas reserves to repay the bailout loan within 2013 and minimize its impact on citizens.

He also says he is strongly against a private firm probing Cypriot lenders for money laundering and promises to set up a cabinet with representatives from across the political spectrum. Cyprus’s European peers would probably be wary if he were to be elected, but Samaras’s presence late last year at the annual memorial of Lillikas’s political mentor, Papadopoulos, means the Greek prime minister would likely not be as displeased.

Voting for the Cypriot election will also take place in 10 Greek cities for expatriate voters. The election commission in Nicosia expects to announce the result around 7 p.m. on Sunday.

In a bizarre twist, the 575,000 ballot papers, carrying the names of all 11 presidential candidates, had to be reprinted as one of the independent candidates, Andreas Efstratiou, had used the logo of the Guinness Book of Records above his name because he had once held the record for the wedding dress with the longest train, produced at his bridalwear store. He had been allowed to use the logo in the previous election, in 2008, but since he lost the record in 2011, Guinness forced the election authorities to take it off the ballot papers, thereby leading to the reprinting of all of them.

Authorities said Efstratiou will be asked to foot this unprecedented bill, estimated at some 15,000 euros. He could therefore claim to have registered yet another record.

ekathimerini.com , Friday February 15, 2013 (22:44)  
Democracy´s many guises and challenges
Lessons not learned
Promises, promises
Lost in the fog
Pensions audit draws money, finds major fraud
A review of all the pensions being issued by the Greek state which started two years ago in a bid to weed out false claims has resulted in savings of 42.2 million euros, Alternate Finance Mi...
Athens dismisses Davutoglu´s invitation to tea on Cyprus
Turkey’s new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the occupied part of Cyprus on Tuesday and suggested that Greek Premier Antonis Samaras should join him there for peace talks but Athens d...
Inside News
Sports events extend season of tourism
The organization of sporting activities at popular Greek destinations has helped to extend the tourism season and brought additional revenues to sector professionals. Among the big events in...
Gov’t to ask for subsidy return
The government will seek the return of 387.4 million euros in illegal state subsidies given to Greek farmers in 2009, according to a document that Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis forwarde...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Mitroglou seals Olympiakos´s 3-2 triumph over Atletico
Costas Mitroglou returned to scoring after 10 long months to seal a famous victory for Olympiakos in the Champions League as the Greek champion defeated visiting Atletico Madrid 3-2 on Tuesd...
SOCCER
Olympiakos, Atletico gear up for Champions League opener
A rousing 2-1 La Liga victory at Real Madrid on Saturday may suggest otherwise, but Atletico Madrid is still rebuilding after losing several key players in the close season, coach Diego Sime...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Mitroglou seals Olympiakos´s 3-2 triumph over Atletico
2. Sports events extend season of tourism
3. Gov’t to ask for subsidy return
4. Shipping sector concentrates but still expands despite crisis
5. First step toward transformation of Athenian Riviera
6. Pensions audit draws money, finds major fraud
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece at bottom of social justice scale among EU28
2. Lessons not learned
3. Golden Dawn candidate found guilty of inciting racist violence
4. Promises, promises
5. PM to inaugurate new surgery wing at Evangelismos Hospital
6. Thessaloniki woman arrested for cashing in dead aunt's pension
Today
This Week
1. Greece on standby
2. A Greek God
3. Avramopoulos appointed Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs
4. Central Athens traffic restrictions back in force on Monday
5. Pavlos Fyssas murder trial expected to start before the end of the year
6. EU bank tests may miss trillion dollar risk, study finds
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.