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Budget vote lays marker for ugly election battle

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The 2021 state budget barely passed through parliament with the votes of socialist Edek, the Alliance, Solidarity, and the alt-right Elam, setting the tone for an ugly May election campaign ahead.

Did the government avoid a fiscal cliff?

Was it the ‘patriotic duty’ of the smaller parties to defy calls for transparency?

Did Cyprus truly avoid an ‘economic meltdown’ if rating agencies were to condemn the Cyprus sovereign to ‘junk’, as politicians blurted in their scare-mongering tactics?

The ruling Democratic Rally and its leadership missed an opportunity to come clean and regain the people’s trust.

They ignored the clear message from the public that they are fed up with corruption and its tolerance, opting instead to compromise with the smaller political groupings.

Disy sent a clear message that “it is OK to cover up and get away with it,” evidence from other scandals coming to the fore.

Such as the Justice Minister unleashing hound dogs on a Larnaca resident linked to a parody Twitter account, or leading sportswoman coming out about sexual abuse by a sports official, who now freely teaches in the public sector.

Perhaps Disy’s leadership has not realised it smacks of nepotism and a grand cover-up.

Opposition Diko admitted that an opportunity was lost (no thanks to its former allies) to force the administration to hand over evidence in the ‘golden passports’ scandal to the Auditor General.

The Diko leader stopped short of saying he does not trust the inquiry team, tasked to probe the scandal that led to the resignation of the House speaker and an MP, decimating Cyprus’ reputation as a financial services centre.

He claimed the Anastasiades administration will continue to go out of its way to cover up the scandal, support public officials involved, as the inquiry team was appointed by the Attorney General, a minister when the Cabinet approved the sale of passports by the bucketload.

Members of the inquiry also came under fire when the same Attorney General suggested they get more money and this by getting Cabinet approval, side-tracking the state budget.

This is an insult to the unemployed and hungry public when the government has cut back on welfare, school spending and development projects, claiming it could not make payments “because the budget was not approved”.

The essence is lost here.

Passports were sold, corrupt senior civil servants in the Interior Ministry were manipulated, documents falsified, corruption was plentiful.

The administration ignored this with the President even saying “there was nothing wrong” in his former law firm benefiting from the scheme, as did hundreds of other lawyers, audit and advisories, property developers and investment consultants.

In other words, everybody had a hand in the cookie jar, which is why the ‘public’ inquiry only became public last week.

Testimony was given behind closed doors so no one could check if the right questions were being asked.

With senior Disy former ministers bickering on social media about each other’s role in the “cover-up”, only now has the ruling party called for the inquiry’s earlier evidence to be made public — five months after the probe started.

Are these the principles that the European Popular Party upholds for its members?

If so, the EPP is just as corrupt and tolerates every sort of cover-up for which it accuses other political groupings.

It is clear from the mudslinging the Disy-Diko collaboration will never happen post-election.

Diko and communists Akel will be watching like hawks as President Anastasiades walks into a trap with the upcoming UN-sponsored Cyprus talks.

Meanwhile, the nation heads to another general election, unsure if the Republic is beyond saving.