Saving a sinking ship

2 mins read

Licking its wounds and hurt from a bitter internal battle, the former ruling Democratic Rally is headed to elect a new leader, its fifth president in DISY’s lifetime of 47 years.

And the choice is between two younger members of its leadership, House President Annita Demetriou and MP Demetris Demetriou.

Not that there was a deliberate choice to bring new blood to the party, but more of a necessity to end the leadership challenge that was starting to damage DISY, with a disgruntled membership after losing February’s presidential elections.

One might say this might be a good opportunity to freshen the party’s image.

But the truth is far from that: the next leader will have twice the burden on their back than outgoing president Averof Neofytou.

First and foremost, the party needs to decide if it will be in the Opposition, as had been thought until recently.

Or will it support incoming President Nikos Christodoulides without joining his fragile coalition, as his mentor, Nicos Anastasiades, tried to impose?

The party’s policy started to stray from founder Glafcos Clerides’ vision of a strong, liberal, free-market and staunchly pro-West philosophy.

There are doubts, even if the bizonal, bicommunal and federal solution to the island’s division is the preferred way out.

And, what to do with the hardline nationalists within party ranks who pander to the extremists and would prefer a permanent dividing line, yet hate to admit it?

After painting the president-elect as a party traitor for going alone in the election, despite the silent nod from his employer at the Presidential Palace, Christodoulides has been invited to the European Peoples’ Party congress even though his membership of DISY was revoked.

This suggests an odd relationship among those who knew Christodoulides was one of Anastasiades’ closest associates during the past two administrations.

At the same time, DISY leader Neofytou was left to hand-pick the party leadership, sidelining anyone with ambitions for the top job.

Then came the harsh criticism from none other than founder Clerides’ daughter and former MP, Kate, echoing what everyone knew and tolerated but would not admit.

It would mean acknowledgement of everything wrong during the past decade, from the passports bonanza that got out of hand, despite the stern caution from Brussels, to the stalemate in the Cyprus peace talks, losing golden opportunities for a breakthrough.

The impression that has sunk in among the public is that the economic crisis and the banking collapse were not unexpected.

Money was siphoned out of the country by relatives and friends of politicians while ordinary people suffered.

The middle class has been eliminated, and small to medium-sized enterprises are fast vanishing.

The only economic growth is what the figures show on paper, far from the real economy, with the sole priority being to satisfy civil servants and their votes.

In fact, the credibility of the party and the country, in general, have been tarnished, saved only by the soft-spoken approach of the country’s first female House Speaker, who is close to the people and much loved.

Will the new leader of DISY rescue the party and bring it back on track, or is it simply seen by some as an arrangement of sorts until the next election?