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Cyprus Editorial: Will DIKO waver on privatisations?

04 December, 2013 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

Now that the centre-right Democratic Party has a new leader, it remains to be seen if the civil servant-dominated political group will change its mind on the privatisation of government services and utilities, or at least approach the matter with a more open mind.
DIKO’s new president Nicolas Papadopoulos has masterfully avoided getting entangled into any dialogue on the subject throughout his campaign challenging the party leadership. He has acknowledged the fait accompli as imposed by the MoU with the Troika, often blaming his predecessor for giving in to demands of the ruling Democratic Rally and President Anastasiades, for the sake of keeping the awkward coalition intact.
But the driving principle behind the current administration’s policies is maintaining a pro-business approach to everything from liberalisation to improving efficiencies, as opposed to the previous government that within five years managed to dismantle all that was built up over the past three decades. In a naïve sort of way, Demetris Christofias may even have done us a great favour, by forcing change and reform onto the system that would probably not have come any other way. At least, let’s be grateful to the man for this achievement, if anything to be proud of.
Papadopoulos has several skeletons that he needs to get out of his political closet. For starters, is he obliged to follow in his father’s footsteps or does he have a mind of his own, especially as regards the privatisation of semi-government services and the sale of the Republic’s non-core assets? In the latest recruitment drive by the rival camps of Marios Karoyian and Papadopoulos, that saw DIKO boost party membership to record levels, it is unclear what part of the 12,000 came from within the civil service and which sector the rest. If DIKO membership remains disproportionately high within EAC, Cyta, etc., will the party’s new president feel obliged to tow the line of the man he ousted from office?
On the other hand, Nicolas Papadopoulos has toned down his radical outburst of the past and in recent years has seemed much more restrained, painting the portrait of a composed young politician. His chairmanship of the House Finance Committee provided an ideal platform to boost his public image and at least seem to care about the economic crisis, but with nothing revolutionary as regards personal views or even a witch hunt of culprits such as the Troika, Alzarez & Marsal, Pimco, and the rest of the gang.
It remains to be seen if Papadopoulos will try to leave his mark on the new DIKO that he hopes to rebuild or if he will remain trapped by the party’s sins of the past.