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18 July, 2024
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Fidias' win triggers debate on political behavior

Criticism arises over politicians' response to Panayiotou's TV appearance

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Last Sunday, when election winner Fidias Panayiotou appeared on the panel of Alpha TV station, it was not his incongruous outfit or his unusual behaviour, rushing to kiss and hug the presenters, that caused embarrassment. It was the obsequiousness with which some bystanders received him. For instance, Democratic Party MP Zacharias Koulias should have explained politically why society turned its back on DIKO and how they intend to rectify this to become beneficial. Instead, he assumed the role of a journalist, asking Mr Panayiotou about his life and congratulating him on his campaign. On the other hand, Elam's representative Demetris Souglis berated him for not knowing him, adding proudly that his children also have TikTok.

Others seem to have invested in Fidias Panayiotou's acceptance. For example, on election night, Annita Demetriou promised she received the message of modernisation. Judging by the casual video she posted to TikTok during the proclamation, the message she received was to politically dehumanise her party even more. Loukas Fourlas was the first to welcome Panayiotou to his office, assuming the role of a teacher to the apprentice politician, while Kostas Mavrides explained the functions of the European Parliament and the Commission to him—knowledge that most young people who have studied and work hard to make a living already possess. Despite his admitted inadequacies, Panayiotou should have acquired this knowledge when he decided to run for office. The highlight of the last few days was the Minister of Education, Athena Michaelidou. While she refused to inform Parliament officially, she magically found time the same day to make a video with Fidias Panayiotou when he visited her office. The media also played a challenging role, believing that by projecting his personal moments and laughing at his spontaneity, they would benefit, avoiding any criticism towards him.

Everyone quickly identified with Panayiotou to gain some of the acceptance he has garnered and to get publicity, creating a sad scene for those who want politics to have substance and content. This is not just because a media personality was elected who proudly admits he has no policy positions and boldly retorts to criticism with, "We saw what those with positions did." It's because they trivialised politics, mimicking his tactics.

In the last few days, we have heard much about how the parties have led us to this point. That at least Fidias is honest about his lack of knowledge, and how democracy has spoken. However, the answer to the symptom called Fidias Panayiotou is not the trivialisation of politics. The parties must promote their healthy elements, start politics afresh, present positions and proposals, and, above all, remove the dangerous populist voices that brought them temporary votes but cost them their DNA and credibility. We have previously written that the path many people have taken to politics in recent years has turned followers into a political alternative. Precisely because they self-identify as political figures, they tend to be easily replaced by lifestyle figures—people with dangerously inadequate political positions, better at making a spectacle of themselves. Today, we are all spectators of the spectacle, and spectators of our great defeat.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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