One might consider the change of leadership at the small Green Party to be an insignificant event, but it could have a major impact on future generations of voter engagement, at a time when electoral apathy is dominant.
Frustrated with successive economic crises and the lack of progress in reunifying the country, young people are moving away from traditional political groups, defined by ideologies of an age past to seek new forms of activity revolving around their everyday lives.
With at least two of the established parties fragmented and dwindling in supporters, and some fringe newcomers barely surviving due to the absence of clear positions and strategies, the Greens have a golden opportunity to pick up the pieces and attract new voters.
During the past two decades, the party has been at the frontline of many social issues, from clearing communities of toxic waste and preventing the felling of trees in urban areas, to the Cyprus problem.
Its eco-warrior approach and campaigning against animal abuse has propelled its strength at the polls from 2% to nearly 5% and rising, earning the party a second MP and a handful of municipal councillors. But that is as far as it goes.
The Greens’ main areas of activity are the Cyprus problem, European affairs, education, health, economy, diversity, and social justice, with outspoken MP and veteran party leader George Perdikis demanding greater transparency of the traditional political parties, with his calls falling on deaf ears.
The party’s new president, fellow MP and academic Charalambos Theopemptou, too, has a great opportunity to leave his mark on the Greens as they try to widen its voter appeal.
Just as the traditional German and Belgian Greens of the 1970s and 80s toned down their militant campaigns and adapted their guiding principles to include ecological wisdom, sustainability and respect for diversity, the Cyprus Greens must also move forward and fill a gap.
The main reason for a rising rate of apathy in past elections has to do with many people undecided on who to support at the polls, evident from the fact that women hardly ever vote for women in Cyprus.
Cyprus is changing, the whole region is developing rapidly with issues of protecting the seas, water conservation, sustainable economies, peace, and energy expected to dominate most of the politics in years to come.
More and more people have realised the benefits of a cyclical economy, which younger people seem to understand better, while reducing waste has become a welcome change in our lives.
Saving energy and opting for electricity produced only from renewable sources (solar, wind) is a common topic for discussion, as is the emission rates of cars or even washing machines for any household.
Unconventional wisdom calls for change in everything we do.
Women voters should not be content with the appointment of only two new female faces in the last cabinet reshuffle, while some ministerial posts are still regarded as ‘male-only’ territory, such as the defence and finance portfolios.
With the same logic, a ‘green’ politician should not be limited to the narrow confines of the Environment Commissioner, when we have eco-friendly cabinet members, as is the case of the incumbent Agriculture Minister.
With the traditional political parties already past their expiry date, especially when it comes to climate change, it’s high time the Green Party steps up to the challenge and undertakes a greater responsibility.
Otherwise, it will be doomed as the go-to organisation for tree planting and beach cleaning campaigns.