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Early whiff of electioneering

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Candidates are gradually surfacing with an interest to run in the next presidential elections.

The trouble is that voters will be going to the polls 15 months from now, not next week or next month, judging from the pace of campaigning and rhetoric on posters and in the airwaves.

Or is it just a smokescreen to deflect public opinion away from the ills of a Covid-stricken economy, a backward education system and the black hole of the civil service draining funds the private sector is producing?

Some, mainly independent thinkers like Achilleas Demetriades and Marios Eliades, have declared their clear intentions, as has ex-Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markoulli.

All three share a common understanding of the dire political situation and the stalemate in the Cyprus talks.

Others are struggling to convince their own parties, with a clear rift within ruling DISY, where two names have been discussed so far, and other former cabinet members are keen to join the race.

Will this be a campaign of good against evil?

More likely, it will be a race to determine the future of Cyprus, as the island has run out of allies and friends, gained a tarnished image of being corrupt and has little chance of being taken seriously on anything from energy to the economy.

Banks, burdened with a still high and unproductive payroll, are gradually returning to mediocre profitability, grudgingly getting rid of their mortgage-linked properties.

Other sectors are fighting the invisible Covid enemy, especially in the tourism sector, while small to medium-sized enterprises are closing in droves, despite official talk of growth and receding unemployment.

But as with the mayors and municipal councillors, rewarded with a two- and half-year extension of their tenure, regardless of achievements or incompetence, politicians have resorted to regurgitating populist themes from migration to minimum wage, little is done about the real economy.

It’s the end of the year; the state budget for 2022 is on everyone’s mind and will be the talk of deputies and their parties over the next few days, with no hope of talking about real issues.

Everything is put on hold, not that it should be.

But once the holiday period is over, as simple as celebrations will be, the public should get actively involved in the decision making that paves the way for a brighter future.

Voter indifference earlier this year resulted in an awkwardly unchanged new session of parliament.

Saying ‘nothing will change’ is not a solution. Things can change. It’s a matter of waking up to reality and forcing change.

Perhaps February 2023 will be the last chance for a fresh and clean presidential race.

But can we wait that long?