Chief Returning Officer and Interior Ministry Director Dr Elikkos Elia announcing the candidates for the European Parliament elections to be held on June 9

63 vie for 6 MEP seats

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A total of 63 candidates came forward on Wednesday to challenge the six seats allocated to Cyprus in the next European Parliament, elections for which will be held on June 9, together with seven other ballots for mayors and local administration.

Cyprus elects six MEPs who take office in the expanded EP of 720 deputies, up from 705 in the previous session.

Other ballots will be for the election of 20 mayors and 92 deputy mayors, following the merger of municipalities, five district commissioners, hundreds of municipal councillors, village council leaders and council members, as well as local school boards.

In all, ten political parties and groups are fielding six candidates each for the European parliament, the overwhelming majority of whom are men. A further two parties submitted one candidate each, together with two independents.

Five of the incumbent MEPs are seeking re-election – Giorgos Giorgiou and Niyazi Kizilyurek of AKEL (The Left, GUE/NGL), Eleni Stavrou and Loukas Fourlas of the Democratic Rally-DISY (European Popular Party, EPP), and Costas Mavrides of the Democratic Party-DIKO (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, S&D).

Socialist Demetris Papadakis (S&D) is not seeking re-election.

Fourlas, a former TV anchor, has a keen interest in health issues. In the outgoing European parliament, he joined the Special Committee on Beating Cancer and chairs the MEPs Against Cancer Group of 128 MEPs.

In September 2022, Fourlas was the recipient of the Health & Wellbeing Award at The Parliament Magazine’s annual MEP Awards. He has long advocated for increased funding for care and research into cancer, and heads an annual swimathon raising funds for the Little Heroes charity fighting children’s cancer.

Eleni Stavrou replaced Lefteris Christoforou who ended a 30 year career in the Cyprus and European parliaments in November 2022, to take up a seat on the European Court of Auditors.

Turkish Cypriot professor

AKEL’s Giorgos Giorgiou, a former deputy in the Cyprus parliament, has been an activist campaigning for social and workers’ rights, while Niyazi Kizilyurek, a political scientist and professor at the University of Cyprus, is the first Turkish Cypriot elected to the EP.

He is a staunch supporter of a federal solution to the island’s division, based on UN fundamentals and human rights, and advocates for a greater say by Turkish Cypriots, unhindered by strict directions from Ankara.

Hoping to serve his third term in the EP, DIKO’s Mavrides has been a member of two key EP committees; as an economist he sits in Economic and Monetary Affairs, and as a refugee is a member of the EP Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, where he has staunchly campaigned for not allowing Ankara a free rein in EU accession hopes.

Mavrides recently supported the production and projection in Brussels of a documentary on the missing persons from the 1974 Turkish invasion to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the war.

Some parties have fielded popular names and recruited big guns, such as former cabinet ministers, in an effort to secure seats, while others have scraped the barrel, searching for candidates, after party infighting or dwindling public support.

DISY’s ticket includes former cabinet ministers Constantinos Petrides and Michalis Hatzipantela.

AKEL’s ballot includes TV presenter and producer Melanie Stavrou and former deputy, economist Anna Theologou.

Former MEP returns

Centre-right DIKO has also recruited former TV anchor and journalist Katerina Christofidou, while hoping to return to Brussels is human rights activist and war-zone paediatric surgeon Eleni Theocharous, who served in the EP from 2009 to 2019.

The dark horse to watch in this electoral race, hoping to elect its first MEP, will be the nationalist popular front ELAM, an offshoot of the banned Golden Dawn of Greece, that already has three deputies in the 56-seat Cyprus parliament.

It’s ballot includes former government spokesman Marios Pelekanos, who was miffed that his own DISY party did not include him on its ballot.

The newcomer to the electoral race is Volt, the pro-Europe, pro-solution party, whose members have campaigned against corruption of politicians, especially during the past ten years of the Anastasiades administration, when the uncontrolled ‘golden passports’ scandal saw thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and other sanction-busters securing Cypriot nationality, at a price.

Heading the Volt ballot is deputy Alexandra Attalides, and Sophia Avraam, daughter of former President George Vassiliou and former European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

The other parliamentary parties taking part in the EP elections with a full ballot are the DIKO-offshoot Democratic Alignment-DIPA, the Greens and the socialist movement EDEK.

Other parties testing their voter strength in the elections are the national movement Drasis, the Active Citizens-United Hunters, the single-candidate Animal Party, the social movement Niki, independent Andronikos Zervidse and YouTuber Fidias Panayiotou who claims 2.48 mln followers.

He is best known for getting Elon Musk to hug him in 2023, after securing hugs from 99 other celebrities.