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12° Nicosia,
05 February, 2023
 
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Three clicks to the right

'The most concerning shift is that of DISY. A once-liberal party is transforming into a purely conservative populist party that exploits fear and anger.'

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

While MPs were voting on the budget for 2023, a group of citizens marched outside the parliament, carrying Greek flags, photos of Grivas, and placards labeling the MPs traitors. The source of their rage was a resolution passed by a majority of parliament a few days earlier, in which Grivas was described as unworthy of any kind of honor from his homeland.

The thrashing of MPs and vandalism at EDEK offices as a result of EDEK vice-president Andreas Apostolou "daring" to vote for the resolution is the reaction of those who hoped that now is the time to calmly and critically discuss the Greek side's history.  It is, however, the most powerful refutation of both the Left and the liberal school of thought's teleological approach to history. A history that sees only one way forward. This is most emphatically not a Cypriot phenomenon. We saw it in the United Kingdom, we saw the danger of Le Pen ruling France, we see it in Sweden, and we see it in Italy with the rise of Meloni. It's happening in places like Poland and Hungary. For optimists, extreme right parties could evolve - at best - into conservative parties, but history shows that today is not always worse than tomorrow. Quite the contrary.

Political parties appear to be shifting to the right as society (is shifting)...rather than restraining society's worst instincts, political forces...reinforce them even from the floor of parliament.

Political parties appear to be shifting to the right as society shifts to the right. That is, rather than restraining society's worst instincts, political forces feed and reinforce them even from the floor of parliament. This was demonstrated last week when Andreas Themistocles spewed homophobia from the floor of Parliament. However, we are seeing it from sources that are far from marginal.

According to poll results, ELAM is divided between two right-wing candidates, Averof Neophytou and Nikos Christodoulides, and the far-right ELAM candidate, Christos Christou. The hope is that ELAM votes will shift to Christodoulides-Averof, who adhere to a more moderate ideological approach. The unfortunate thing is that the positions of the two candidates correspond to those of the far-right tendency.

The chapter on troll accounts, as well as the attacks on journalists personally orchestrated by Nikos Christodoulides, are reminiscent of Trump's far-right policies. When the opponent was transformed into someone of lower human quality, rather than someone with whom one could simply disagree. At the same time, for purely political reasons, he fully supported Nick Nouri's immigration policies.

However, the most concerning shift is that of DISY. A once-liberal party is transforming into a purely conservative populist party that exploits fear and anger. It was clear as early as 2019 when they warned of the "danger of an onslaught" of the T/C vote with Niyazi Kiziljirek's candidacy, and it was sealed with Nikos Nouris' immigration policy and Averof Neophytou's racist rant in Emba. When he promised to build fences to keep the Congolese out.

But it was Averof Neophytou who once represented the liberal audience. Today, he is unable to unite his party, with the liberal wing looking for a new home. Perhaps under Achilleas Demetriades' candidacy. Worryingly, the votes he is now attempting to secure are from ELAM. Is this the legacy he wishes to leave in this election? Is this the kind of legacy he wants to leave for his party and political career?

And, because it all began with tribalism, which has been the fuel of DISY's attempt to mobilize its audience in recent years, let it learn from its founding leader Glafkos Clerides, who dared to demystify and criticize it early on. The Left, which has frequently opted for dogmatism, frequently putting butter on the bread of the far right, bears significant responsibility for everything that is happening.

So, for the time being, for those who were shocked by last Thursday's images. Politics must be beneficial. And it must provide context for the country. When it begins to fish for votes in the murky waters of the far right, when it is founded on rage and fear, it becomes increasingly dangerous.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  elections  |  politics

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