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13 June, 2024
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AKEL accused of anti-European populism ahead of elections

Annita Demetriou avoids same-sex marriage debate

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

In the past week, Annita Demetriou presented DISY's positions for the European elections while launching a simultaneous offensive against AKEL. She accused AKEL of promoting an ideology incompatible with democracy and competing with ELAM in anti-European populism. She emphasized that, unlike AKEL, DISY prioritizes "the interests of our Cyprus above all else."

For some, this attack seemed unwarranted, as nothing had preceded it to justify such an escalation of tension. However, insiders saw it as a strategic move aimed at consolidating support. It was essentially an effort to challenge the Left-Right divide in a crucial electoral battle for DISY, which is seeing its voters turn to ELAM. DISY spokesman Onoufrios Koulla joined this ideological conflict, arguing that DISY must be strengthened. He suggested that as a representative of Europe, DISY is a pioneer in fighting inequalities and protecting human rights.

The question they need to address is whether this approach is still relevant. A decade ago, with different political figures, this might have sufficed to rally support. But Europe, as a concept and space, is now part of the lived experience of new generations and largely taken for granted. The crisis of the financial haircut has already faded, making any demonization or idealization of Europe seem like an outdated, overly simplistic argument from a bygone era.

What Europe truly risks losing are its values, which are gradually eroding, and this is where parties need to focus their efforts. In this context, DISY’s narrative as a pioneer in progress, change, and the protection of human rights was recently undermined by the party’s president and parliamentary speaker, Annita Demetriou. When asked about her stance on same-sex marriage, she conveniently shifted the responsibility to society, claiming it was not ready to address the issue.

This response was seen as maintaining a noncommittal stance, as she neither supported nor opposed same-sex marriage, nor provided a rationale for her position. Instead, she passed the burden onto society to avoid criticism from both sides. Citizens do not want politicians who merely observe society; they expect political leaders to drive society forward. If politicians fear the cost of taking a stand, how beneficial are they to society? If they simply observe whether society is mature or immature, what role do they fulfill, and what goals do they serve?

In an era dominated by slogans and social media spectacle, as evidenced by the case of Fidias, political parties should prioritize their political positions. Unfortunately, in recent years, the pursuit of spectacle and temporary applause has prevailed over substantive politics. This has led to a situation where lifestyle figures with dangerously inadequate political positions have become prominent, excelling at offering a spectacle, a trend initially started by the politicians themselves.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  elections  |  politics

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