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On the campaign trail

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The latest news on the campaign trail in the runup to the 2023 presidential elections is that leftist opposition AKEL seems to favour Andreas Mavroyiannis, a close associate of President Anastasiades whom he appointed chief negotiator handling the Cyprus problem nine years ago.

Mavroyiannis resigned his post a few days ago, most likely because he had word that AKEL would support his candidacy.

He remained head of the negotiations all these years, doing nothing essentially.

The collapse of the Crans-Montana negotiations in 2017 was a crime, according to a book written by Makarios Drousiotis, a veteran investigative journalist and former close aid of President Anastasiades with access to privileged information.

Just a few months ago, Mavroyiannis admitted in an interview that “we came very close to a solution”, yet he never blamed the government for any wrongdoing.

Now he wants to run for president to do what, exactly? Solve the Cyprus problem that he failed to do in the past?

Ironically, two of his closest political associates, Nicos Christodoulides, the former minister of foreign affairs and Averof Neophytou, the chair of the ruling party, will also run.

Why exactly Mavroyiannis is any better than either of them is a question that the leadership of AKEL will have a hard time answering to its constituency.

Mavroyiannis have little if any, political capital to rely on.

He will be particularly vulnerable not just by Akelites but also by those who will run against him, assuming his candidacy is rubber-stamped by AKEL’s broader central committee later in June.

Under the best-case scenario, Mavroyiannis will barely make it to the second round of the elections, where he will be facing either Neophytou or Christodoulides. Either of them can easily prevail.

Perhaps the best hope of AKEL would have been Achilleas Demetriades, a successful human rights lawyer with moderate liberal ideas and with pro-solution and pro-European views.

Although Demetriades has many qualities that will potentially help him become a good president, his experience with elections falls short.

So far, he has not managed to tap into the biggest pool of voters or potential voters, which represents more than 40%.

These people stay away from politics mainly because they don’t trust politicians or see no reason to bother themselves with them.

The backbone of his supporters is pro-solution voters, particularly those who believed in Anastasiades in 2013.

But a growing number from AKEL see him as their best chance to oust the DISY government, which they see as corrupt and without much credibility to restart negotiations or bring about a solution.

Many voters from AKEL are now in despair after news broke out about Mavroyiannis.

Some took to social media to express their frustration with what they saw as a bad choice for their party. One of them went as far as to remind his Facebook friends that Drousiotis, in his book “The Crime in Crans-Montana”, said Anastasiades described Mavroyiannis as a “maid” who has served everyone.

Mavroyiannis served as chief negotiator under three different administrations in the past 19 years.

Some suggest that he could have been a good candidate if he had stepped down right after the failure at Crans-Montana.

Under this scenario, AKEL, which was essentially the only major party that criticised the government’s handling of the negotiations, could have supported someone with similar policies and ideas.

The thinking goes that such criticism against his former boss would have given Mavroyiannis credibility and helped him gain favour among pro-solution voters.

But his resignation so many years after that failure is seen by many as opportunistic.

Sources say that AKEL plans to take the matter to a vote sometime later in June with two likely candidates – Demetriades and Mavroyiannis.

Nobody knows the outcome. However, if opposition within AKEL prevails and Demetriades is chosen, AKEL will have a powerful candidate who can snap victory from the jaws of certain defeat.

 

Michael S. Olympios is an economist, business advisor, Editorial Consultant to the Financial Mirror

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