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CYPRUS: European elections are for the brave and not so bold

19 May, 2019 | Posted By: Charlie Charalambous

Unsurprisingly the European elections are of no interest to most people as the horse-trading that goes on in Cyprus politics is magnified on a larger scale in Strasbourg where the various groupings get together to ride the gravy train.


This is a ready-mix cynical view of politics that enables populists, extremists and Brexit myth-spinners like Nigel (why would you trust someone called that) Farage play the politician-of-the-people card against the corrupt EU establishment.

Certainly, there are honest politicians who care deeply about their popularity rating and how they come across on social media.

Of course, they want to change the world for the better – which is usually code for agenda-driven righteousness. 

Nevertheless, that could be called a thing, which is more than I can say for our own homegrown political animals who are rather a rare breed of issue-light, purveyors of favours and grandstanding on the defunct Cyprus problem.

For those who like their politics served up in man-size, hard-to-digest portions, accompanied by an unsolvable riddle contained in a fortune cookie with Eurovision chutzpah replacing elevator music as background noise – then Cyprus politics is right for you.

Personally, I would avoid coming into contact with it, as Cypriot politics (if you can call it that) is corrosive, toxic and comes with an identity crisis.

Although the European elections will be held in Cyprus on May 26, you would be hard pressed to notice it, apart from the odd unimaginative billboard with some miserable bloke or token women looking down at you.

There are no eye-catching slogans, snarling attacks or even well thought out messages, apart from “forward together” or something crass like that from our MEP hopefuls.

My favourite billboard is the guy from extremists Elam who insists on having his nickname Oscar in brackets…seriously? Only Brazilian footballers, Jazz pianists or 19th-century dilettantes are called Oscar. Maybe his PR team said it was a vote-winner.

With anti-immigration and pro-nationalist parties sweeping across Europe, there’s every chance that the same could happen in Cyprus with Elam winning their first European seat.

Such parties thrive on disillusionment with the old order and smugness of a traditional establishment unwilling to listen or instigate change.

European Parliament elections are looming large but where is the debate on the kind of Europe that Cypriots want to be a part of.

Do we want a more integrated and federal Europe, or will the union slowly disintegrate into a divided bloc where national interests and protectionism come first?

What about climate change for instance and the climate emergency, where do the Cyprus parties stand on doing more to save the planet – they’d rather save their seats.

There’s the joke that if you know the name of your MEP the overwhelming odds are that it must be you because nobody else would have a clue.

And how many of the 70-plus candidates can you name that are on the ballot waiting for your tick of approval?

Maybe a more pertinent question is whether you know what they stand for, and I don’t mean their 10 commandments on the Cyprus problem.

Just throwing some issues out there at random; what do our wannabe MEPs have to say about cancer treatments, mental health, education reform, e-government, recycling, child obesity, poverty, the gender gap…I thought so.

Has anyone actually asked any of these frontrunners about such issues, do they even have a policy on them, or for that matter care enough to have a strategy or is it all about having access to the money pot?

Politics should be about getting things done, being inclusive and finding ways to improve society not becoming part of its problem.

Cyprus politics has become irrelevant to the younger generation as they have different aspirations and hopes in a technology-based changing environment.

There is voter apathy for a reason.

Where are the politicians responding to this lost generation brought up on division and divide-and-rule politics?

Opposition Akel has made a brave move by including a Turkish Cypriot on its Euro election ticket to prove that it is possible for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to campaign together and vote together – a challenge to the apartheid politics of Cyprus.

If Cypriots truly want reconciliation and reunification then they need the courage and conviction to walk a different path than the one that has brought us partition and separation.

These elections may be a lost cause, but if it manages to change the way Greek and Turkish Cypriots see each other, then being an EU citizen can afford us a different kind of ticket to the future.

To get there we may need to follow our instinct as our political leadership lacks the vision and foresight to take us where we need to go.