The embarrassed expressions on the faces of government and DISY executives who had rallied around Averof Neofytou after his defeat were indicative of the difficult dilemmas DISY will face in the coming day. Averof Neofytou's exclusion from the presidential election's second round and the glaring 3.4% gap he had with Andreas Mavroyiannis, who came in second, are sufficient proof that the Right-wing party faces difficult times.
The causes of the defeat
Averof Neofytou was eliminated from the second round for a variety of reasons, including:
A large portion of the DISY voters had been persuaded that DISY had two candidates, and the vote for Christodoulides had been disqualified.
Anastasiades' rule as chairman of the ruling party had taken its toll on Averof Neofytou.
Based on qualitative data, he had a poor image both within DISY and among the larger electorate, in which he had little input.
He followed a hard party line of "DISY against all," which does not help when the main goal of running for President is to unite the country, and especially when society's ties to the parties are fraying.
Throughout the election campaign, there were serious communication lapses, such as questioning polls, revising the Constitution by introducing a vice-president, who then became an assistant president and then just a constitutional revision, taking a hard line on immigration by creating a barrier and the bogey of an influx of "Cameroonians" if the minimum wage was raised, which led to the leakage of the moderate and liberal vote.
The President's wish
Why Averof Neofytou lost is now history. Already, party officials who were asked to position themselves on TV panels noted that the percentage was very high in comparison to the polemics they had been subjected to all along. Averof Neofytou received 26.11% of the vote, or 103,748 votes, which is more than DISY received in the 2021 parliamentary elections, which received 27.7% of the vote and 99,328 votes. The question is what DISY's attitude will be. President Anastasiades' request for a meeting after the results were announced, as well as the continuation of the discussion on Monday, show that he wants a say in the decision. However, Nicos Anastasiades has made it clear to his entourage that there is only one option, and it is not Andreas Mavroyiannis, who is backed by AKEL. As previously stated, it will be a self-abrogation of his term of office. Not only because DISY was warning about the "AKEL boogeyman" in the economy and the return of the "disastrous AKEL government" until a few days ago, but also because AKEL has been viciously attacking Nicos Anastasiades for his handling of the Cyprus problem and for corruption issues. It is no coincidence that Andreas Mavroyiannis has stated that he will go to any length in criminal proceedings regarding corruption. Supporting or tacitly agreeing to support Mavroyiannis is seen as a remote possibility, especially since his close associate Nikos Christodoulides is the unopposed candidate.
The rapid developments
The question is what Pindarou will do. Averof Neofytou has stated unequivocally that he will run for the party presidency, with the final decision being made collectively. It should be noted that the party's Political Bureau will meet on Monday, and it is not ruled out that a supreme congress on how the party will proceed will take place the following day.
Any decision will undoubtedly be difficult and painful for the party. On the one hand, the right-wing party's formal support for the AKEL candidate is regarded as a significant step. On the other hand, maintaining the party's consistency and percentages to support a candidate, who is described as a splitter, will be especially difficult.
Patterns have already started to emerge in DISY. Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou told K that supporting Nikos Christodoulides is the right thing to do for the party. Vice President Efthimios Diplaros, who stated on the night of the elections that he has a clear position, is expected to do the same, while Speaker of the Parliament Anita Demetriou, contrary to what was initially reported, does not appear to favor supporting Christodoulides. Dimitris Demetriou, the press spokesman, said there should be a clear position based on the interests of the country and the party, rather than sentimentality. Given that the party will not have a seat at the table, it is almost certain that Dimitris Demetriou will raise the issue of supporting Nikos Christodoulides. The position of serious opposition is also held by DISY deputy president Harris Georgiades, who recognizes that Christodoulides' candidacy is disruptive, but believes that supporting Andreas Mavroyiannis is inconsistent with the party's principled positions, given the economic narrative. According to his inner circle, this could result in a rapid downsizing of the party.
Mavroyiannis and the chance of a bluff
There are, however, executives, led by DISY president Averof Neofytou, who see supporting Andreas Mavroyiannis' as a positive act. In a debate, Neofytou stated that the priority for any decision will be the Cyprus problem, followed by the economy. Many consider this to be a forerunner of what he will propose in this way. The fact that his close ally Paphos mayor Phaidonas Phaidonos was able to announce his intention to support Andreas Mavroyiannis sent a message that the situation within the Politburo is expected to be unpredictable. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides is also said to favor supporting Mavroyiannis, as well as Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Michalis Sofokleous. Apart from disagreements with those who support Nicos Christodoulides on Cyprus, this natural inclination believes that supporting the "disruptor" will result in its self-annulment, disintegration, and massive leaks to Christodoulides. According to political circles, Nikos Christodoulides' failure to extend a clear hand of cooperation to Averof Neofytou did not help. However, some believe that the entire story of support for Andreas Mavroyiannis is a bluff by the President of the National Socialist Party to Nicos Anastasiades in order to keep the DISY presidency. A presidency that was immediately claimed by certain executives following the outcome.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]