Divided DISY heading for stormy leadership contest

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DISY leader Averof Neofytou has a fight on his hands to remain at the helm of the island’s largest party following failure in the presidential elections.

His leadership is contested by the party’s second-in-command Harris Georgiades and DISY spokesperson Demetris Demetriou.

Neofytou’s presidential bid failed in the first round – an unprecedented disaster for the ruling conservatives.

He came third, garnering only 26.11% of the vote.

In the 2021 general election, DISY got 27.77%, a drop of 2.9 percentage points compared to the 2016 elections.

AKEL-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis garnered 29.59%, and winner Nikos Christodoulides pulled in 32.04% — splitting the DISY vote.

This is the first time the right-wing party failed to make it to the second round of a presidential election since its establishment in 1976.

DISY deputy leader Georgiades threw his hat into the race on Tuesday.

The former finance minister said the party’s defeat in the presidential elections and everything that followed was a “cause of sadness and concern”.

“Instead of a sober review and a unifying approach, sharp divisions and interventions were chosen, which put our party at risk of splitting.

“A new course is needed to keep DISY united, strong, and credible.

“It is time for our party to turn the page and adopt a new leadership model. More collective and consensual”.

He said he was running not out of personal ambition but to give DISY the restructuring it needs.

Demetriou told Ant1 TV he “was very likely” going to be a candidate.

Reportedly, Demetriou is already setting up an electoral office in the high-end area of Engomi in the capital.

Outgoing Interior Minister Nicos Nouris was also expected to run but pulled out of the race, criticising the timing of the electoral process.

Nouris said he would not be running, as he believed a substantive discussion and an evaluation of the election result should precede any party leadership contest.

Neofytou announced that elections for the party’s top post would occur on March 11.

The date was ratified during Monday night’s political bureau meeting.

Announcing the date, Neofytou had put his name forward.

Former DISY member Christodoulides, and close associate of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, won Sunday’s runoff against former diplomat Mavroyiannis.

Christodoulides, 49, received 51.97% or 204,633 votes, against Mavroyiannis’ 48.03%, with a difference of about 14,000 votes.

Candidacies for the DISY leader must be officially submitted by February 21 with 100 signatures from party backers, 10 of which must be from each district.

Those eligible to vote are people who have been registered in the party since at least December 10.

The party will hold its scheduled Conference for a five-year review on May 6, where other positions in the party’s leadership are up for grabs.