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13 April, 2024
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Christodoulides' talk of inclusion: Did actions match his words?

A closer look at the TV-only interview and the promise of everyone being heard

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Last week, President Christodoulides attempted to address the declining popularity he faced after a year of governance marked by individual crises and a premature reshuffle. This decline, evident in multiple polls, contrasts sharply with the positive image he projected as a candidate just before the February 2023 elections. Seeking to restore his standing in a mainstream manner, he opted for a cross-channel TV interview reminiscent of pre-election debates that had previously favored his candidacy.

Over a year later, the image of candidate Christodoulides starkly differs from that of President Christodoulides. Polls consistently show a deterioration in his image and popularity, with disappointment in the perceived shift from independence to aligning with old-party politics evident across the public sphere, transcending the traditional right-left dichotomy. The contradiction lies in the discrepancy between the president's presumed "one-term" status and the strategic persistence of image projection through media communication, often overshadowing substantive achievements. Initiatives like the 'Amalthea' humanitarian corridor to Gaza and the appointment of an EU envoy to address the Cyprus problem exemplify this emphasis on optics over substance.

The issue of inclusion also surfaces, especially for a president elected without the moral support of major parties. The failure to include representatives from various media outlets, aside from television, in the assessment of one year of governance reflects a lack of commitment to the inclusivity promised during President Christodoulides' election campaign. This pattern becomes evident when considering that, during the entire year of governance, the president chose only one newspaper for an interview, which contributed to the reshuffle crisis.

With four more years ahead, President Christodoulides faces formidable challenges, including the complex Cyprus situation, regional instability, economic issues, and societal concerns. The opportunity to prioritize substance and effectiveness over communication and image exists, but time will tell whether he seizes it or faces the risk of failure. It is hoped that a more inclusive approach will guide his actions in the future.

Twitter: @JohnPikpas

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and may have been edited for brevity and clarity]


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