Cypriots will go to the polls in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, Feb. 5, at the end of an unrelieved campaign in which all three candidates are former collaborators of outgoing conservative President Nicos Anastasiades, 76, Retired after ten years of service as chief of the divided islands.The contenders for the top job are all trying to jump out of its orbit and outshine each other, if only to dispel the popular narrative that they are all “Son of Anastasiades”.
Averof Neophytou, 61, who has led Democratic rallies (DISY, the conservative right) since 2013, calls himself “Safe choice”. He has his own experience and political skills. It was under his leadership that DISY, which does not have a majority in parliament, was able to pass reforms demanded by the “troika” (the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank) to stem the financial crisis of 2012 and the 2013 . “Those who claim to bring about change will only succeed in creating chaos”the deadpan politician said at his final rally on Thursday. “The time is neither for experiment nor for error”he tapped, valuing his newfound stability.
Instead, Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, played the political revival card. In talks with Turkish Cypriots on the island’s unification, Mr Anastasiades’ former chief negotiator was backed by the Progressive Workers’ Party (AKEL, which is loyal to the Communist Party). Universities, especially through Paris, where he was a research assistant at Panthéon-Assas, a veteran diplomat trying to attract disillusioned people with the outgoing government, which was suspected of corruption. Especially controversial attribution schemes, against on-the-spot investments, EU passports, of which Cyprus is a member state since 2004, suspicious businessmen, especially Russians.
The issuance of these “golden passports” has been halted, but its discovery has tarnished the reputation of the outgoing government. “In this election, there are three favourites, and two options: continue this governance or incremental change”Mr Mavroyiannis warned his supporters before Friday’s campaign ends.
Nikos Christodoulides, 49, described as a favorite in the polls, is running as an independent, although he is also a member of DISY, Mr Anastasiades’ party. A former government spokesman and later foreign minister, he aimed to lure all Cypriots, regardless of their political beliefs. “I have experience, knowledge and connections and I want to see my country free and united”, he announced at his last campaign rally. However, his tough stance on Turkish Cypriots has dimmed hopes of a quick political solution.
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