Following DISY’s failure in the presidential elections, the leadership race for the island’s largest party has narrowed to its youngest members in the hierarchy, Annita Demetriou and Demetris Demetriou.
The development came after a last-minute surprise, with current party leader Averof Neofytou and his deputy Harris Georgiades pulling out of the contest.
Just a couple of hours before the 1 pm deadline on Tuesday, Neofytou made his intentions known to the party, with rumours speculating that House Speaker Annita Demetriou would replace him.
Half an hour before the deadline expired, the House Speaker appeared at the party’s offices to submit her candidacy for leader.
Demetriou said: “I will run for the DISY party leadership. I spoke with members and friends of the party. The joint demand is the call for stability.”
She referred to the values of the conservative party as set by the party’s founder and long-time leader, Glafcos Clerides.
Neofytou withdrew his candidacy amid criticism over failing to make it through to the second round of the Presidential election, a first since its establishment in 1976.
It was an unprecedented disaster for the ruling conservatives.
Neofytou did not explain why he had stood down when he declared his determination to fight for his position days before.
Former foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides broke DISY ranks to win the election and humiliate his one-time party boss Neofytou.
In the run-off, DISY urged its members to vote according to their conscience.
However, senior party members openly supported defector Christodoulides.
DISY MP Harris Georgiades also pulled out when news of Annita Demetriou’s intention to run reached party HQ.
“The tight timelines put in place make it difficult for me to continue my effort.
“But the main thing is the fact that the reasons that pushed me to apply have changed.
“Change (in leadership) is certain, with our party turning over a new page, which satisfies me,” said Georgiades in a statement.
Challenging the House Speaker’s bid will be the party’s spokesperson Demetris Demetriou who submitted his candidacy before Neofytou and Georgiades pulled out.
Demetris Demetriou said his candidacy aimed to unify the party following the election fallout.
“The goal is to put the pieces back together.
“To grow and strengthen the Democratic Rally (DISY) party.
“To do this, I believe a total reboot is needed, a rebirth of the party,” said Demetriou.
Candidacies have been submitted ahead of a party vote on March 11.
Annita Demetriou – bidding to become DISY’s first female leader — and Demetris Demetriou are amongst the youngest members of the party hierarchy.
The House’s Speaker is 37, while Demetris Demetrious is 41.
The new leader to be voted in on 11 March will take charge of the Opposition party ahead of the general election in 2026.
Neofytou was at DISY’s helm since 2013 when Nicos Anastasiades stepped down when becoming President of the Republic.