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13 April, 2024
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Christodoulides' public perception and expectations

Delving into the mix of decisions and demeanor in leadership

Eleni Xenou

Eleni Xenou

"The mistakes weren't made in policies; they were made in behaviors and choices, and those were corrected immediately," said the President of the Republic in response to a question posed by colleague Stavros Kyprianou, during a televised interview.

He explained that what he meant was that the mistakes made during the first year of his administration did not harm the Cypriot people. He expressed pride in that fact. Essentially, he admitted that mistakes were made, but fortunately, they weren't policy mistakes and didn't harm the public. This admission naturally leads any thinking citizen to wonder: By what reasoning does a president, young and promising, with vision and broad understanding, declare pride in the fact that the mistakes made in the first year of his administration did not affect society and harmed citizens? Was there a possibility for them to be?

Could a president who was elected precisely because he didn't resemble all those who had previously harmed the citizens (intentionally or unintentionally) have made such tragic mistakes in policies in his first year of governance, especially ones capable of affecting society and the citizens who invested in him? And, by extension, is there a reason for pride because such harmful mistakes weren't made? Second question: How can a president, young, with vision and open-mindedness, who – I repeat – seems to differ from his predecessors, believe that mistakes in behaviors and choices are separate from exercising politics and from the political decisions that lead to shaping policies? Aren't behaviors and choices indicative of political culture? Aren't they signs or even proof of a certain political ethos or mindset?

And if ethos, culture, and mindset are essential components of political perception and action, then how can they be considered separate from exercising politics? On the other hand, even if we accept that behaviors and choices can be distinguished from exercising politics, then why is the government promoting institutional reforms to ensure that such mistakes in behaviors and choices don't occur? This was stated by the President of the Republic. He said, "Institutional reforms are a fundamental component of his governance, precisely to avoid such mistakes (behaviors and choices)." He also said, "This is why they proceeded with the code of conduct for ministers, the Advisory Council, and with legislation regarding advisers, as well as many other institutional reforms that the government undertook, recognizing the mistakes that were made." And yet, he believes that these mistakes, which require institutional changes to ensure they don't happen again, remain harmless to society. And if, due to these mistakes, society feels disappointment or even disillusionment with its expectations, according to the president, there is no reason for that because they stem from mistakes that don't concern policies, and as such, don't disappoint or disillusion citizens.

In simpler terms, citizens shouldn't pay attention to these kinds of mistakes since they don't pertain to policies but are mistakes in behaviors and choices, and should continue to hold their expectations high because fundamentally, there is no problem. The president, moreover, stated that he "is pleased that people expect a lot from him and his governance, especially in such difficult times as the ones we're going through." The possibility that people, precisely because the times are difficult, expect not only policies but also behaviors that correspond to these high expectations in politics, is treated as a remote possibility.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and edited for brevity and clarity]


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