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Election debates fail to spark interest

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Election debates are well underway on almost all national and local television and radio stations, with the same pattern of mostly boring discussions expected to continue until the eve of ‘Super Sunday’ on June 9.

Cyprus voters will be handed an unprecedented six ballot papers in order to choose the next mayors and deputy mayors, municipal councillors, village leaders and council members, district council presidents (in charge of public utilities), as well as the six members of the next European Parliament.

The number of mayors has been reduced following the much-debated municipal reform that resulted in the merger of some town councils with their neighbours, while the number of deputy mayors has been tripled to accommodate the party supporters who have been left out of seeking a nice seat.

No one knows which idiot came up with this plan which was conceived without the consent or participation of ordinary townsfolk. Instead, the bright politicians debated on their own and passed bills and regulations, having as main priority the survival of their political groups.

As a result, some new municipalities will have a greater population, while others, such as the southern Nicosia cluster of Kornos, Lefkara and their vicinity will be the biggest in area. This means that the new mayor will have to drive at least 45 minutes to reach the farthest point of his domain.

Other municipalities and village councils were adamant in refusing to merge, driven mainly by personal egos, and not the greater good of their citizens.

The frustration among voters continues to surround the new roles that have been created, with incumbents and newcomers often not knowing what duties and responsibilities they will have when the merged bodies take over on July 1.

There is a lot of finger pointing and blame-game, while some political parties and their candidates, such as many from the disgraced former-ruling Democratic Rally (Disy), who continue to bang the anti-communist drum, fearing that the Soviet empire will make a comeback and take over Cyprus. How pathetic.

Local issues are rarely on the agenda, transport and community affairs are not being discussed, with hardly anyone mentioning practical ways to support local businesses, such as abolishing the antiquated ‘virtual parking’ space allocated to shops and establishments, financially strangling small enterprises.

Worse still, women running as MEPs are numbered, while mayoral candidates are almost nowhere to be seen, with the female participation limited to electing local council members.

At this rate, and due to the growing apathy, especially among younger voters, the turnout on election day could be smaller than ever.

With just three more weeks to go, we’re hoping to hear from some young and bright candidates, to see if there is hope in engaging with civil society after all.