No winner emerges from presidential TV debate

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The second debate between the three major presidential candidates, Averof Neophytou, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Nikos Christodoulides, took place with no clear winner.

CyBC reporter Andreas Kimitris questioned the candidates while they were also called to answer questions posed by the public stopped on the street by CyBC earlier in the week.

People appeared more concerned over the economy and the Cyprus problem.

Wednesday’s debate was not as heated as the previous one. However, emotions were high between Neophytou and Christodoulides.

Both candidates are from the ranks of ruling DISY, with Christodoulides breaking the party line in not supporting Neophytou in the February elections.

Neophytou emphasised he was the chosen DISY candidate, while Christodoulides was the ‘imposter’.

“Christodoulides may not have been close to the party’s procedures to know that Glafcos Clerides and Nicos Anastasiades were DISY candidates, campaigning with a DISY government program,” said Neophytou.

Christodoulides, who served under Anastasiades as government spokesperson and Foreign Minister, fired back that he had been involved in the party since 1990.

The heated argument between the former and the current associate of President Anastasiades took the back seat, as people on the streets were more concerned about the cost-of-living crisis, especially following the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

The three candidates were called to present their proposals on how they would support Cypriots struggling to make ends meet during high inflation.

Neophytou argued that “to be able to help people, you must first have a working economy”.

Tax proposals

He proposes to reform income tax legislation so that the income of a family as a whole will be taxed, not each member individually.

“In this way, families who may have one high earner and one at the lower end will not be paying more tax than another family where members contribute equally to the family budget.”

Christodoulides wants to increase the pensions received by low-income pensioners by 5% and help those on lower incomes by introducing targeted measures.

To finance these actions, he proposes a windfall tax on energy-producing companies.

Main opposition AKEL-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis suggested an immediate reduction in the price of electricity and fuel and support for households to pay their rent.

He also favours the complete reinstatement of the inflation-linked Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) and its reform so that the low-paid benefit the most.

He also argued that a 12% penalty for those who retire at 63 should be lifted.

Responding to Christodoulides’ proposal to increase pensions by 5%, he said it wouldn’t be enough.

“It would mean that low-income pensioners, receiving €700 a month, would only see an additional €35, which is nothing.

“We need to stop fooling ourselves and the public with numbers. The operation may be successful, but the patient is dying,” said Mavroyiannis.

Electing the eighth President of the Republic will take place on 5 February 2023.

According to recent polls, Christodoulides is the favourite for the job, with a considerable lead ahead of the vote.

Polls show that one-third of voters back Christodoulides, followed by Mavroyiannis and Averof, who trailed 12% each.