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The good, the bad and the unlikely

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We’re exactly nine months away from the next presidential elections, and the game of musical chairs is well underway, with 10 candidates in the running.

From primed politicians to professors, a human rights lawyer, and a telecom expert, all are first-timers in the presidential race; some are dark horses and all men.

The latest to be added to the growing list of heavyweights this week was former Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, whose candidacy was widely expected, resulting in DISY president Averof Neophytou jumping the gun and putting his name forward before anyone else in the party.

As expected, the wrath from the ruling party was vicious, miffed that the former chief diplomat would split DISY’s votes, some even blaming him for consorting with arch-rivals DIKO of the centre-right.

Instead, they plan to put forward their president, Nicolas Papadopoulos.

This allowed the spotlight to shy away from the main opposition AKEL, who decided to back President Anastasiades’ former Cyprus problem advisor Andreas Mavroyiannis.

This prompted hardliners within the communist party to slam their leadership for being “out of touch with the voter base”, saying they didn’t have a choice and that it had been a lesser of two evils.

The traditionalists within the workers’ party wanted one of their own for the presidential ticket, even throwing in the name of outspoken MP Irine Charalambides, who continues to garner the most preferential votes, election after election, despite her not being a card-carrying member.

The alternative choice for AKEL had been Achilleas Demetriades, a soft-spoken human rights lawyer who has been critical of almost everything the incumbent administration has done while in office, from abandoning the struggle to return Varosha to tolerating corruption.

All issues seem to speak to the hearts of a growing number of people.

The choice between Mavroyiannis and Demetriades seems to have been based primarily on the fact that they appear to be the staunchest of supporters for a federal, bizonal, bicommunal solution to the island’s 48-year division.

This matter is retreating in the minds of the younger, disenfranchised voters.

Some circles even suggest that Mavroyiannis, due to his long service in the public domain, knows the workings of the government machine and would be better in its administration.

Both candidates also carry no baggage, have a clean political track record and are not embroiled in corruption cases, either for financial or political gain.

It will be interesting to see how all these new stars of the political scene will engage with the general public over the weeks and months, manoeuvring between handling the fallout on the economy from the war in Ukraine while keeping a watchful eye on the pandemic, with new Covid variants looming.

We are in for a long, hot summer.