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25 June, 2024
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The favorable ones

'The successor to Nikos Anastasiades will have to break free from outdated political discourse from previous eras.'

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

The brightest minds and talents ought to be drawn to politics. People who participate in politics for the country's benefit rather than to gain an advantage and cling to power while siphoning off what they can. Those people who have a clear strategy for moving their nation forward. Most importantly, it should draw in people who are aware when they have served their purpose and should move on.

This came to mind when Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, declared last month that she would not run for reelection. "I am a human being.  We give everything we have for as long as possible, and then it's time to leave.  It's time for me, too," she said, explaining that she didn't have the energy to go on for another four years. Her tenure had not been a pleasant one. She defied stereotypes, demonstrating that politics can have a human face while not relying on symbolism to gain sympathy. She avoided overbearing statements, quotes, and exaggerations, successfully leading her country out of successive crises through hard work and dedication.

But, just as she defied stereotypes when she entered politics, she defied them when she left. Many were surprised by her decision to end her political career so soon, but few stood on substance: her belief that she would no longer be of any use to her country. Politics should attract not only the brightest minds and talents but also people with strong moral instincts. And I must confess that I am not of the school of thought that romanticizes the political past and believes it was once true. We have seen and suffered a lot in this country from various people who were considered authorities. People who have grown to mythical proportions for political gain. Others clung to the chair until the system kicked them out. Others harmed the country by focusing on their own next day rather than the country's. Others, instead of being grateful for the opportunity to serve their country, felt that the country owed them. Unfortunately, today's politics is infested with pathogens and diseases that, if not addressed promptly, can be deadly. Both for political figures and for the society they seek to serve. Arrogance is at the top of the list. That arrogance prevents critical thinking and leads to regimented behavior. The kind of behavior that turns something initially beneficial into something toxic. Despite the challenges and difficulties, we must not give up hope.  We cannot be driven to the flattening of "everyone is the same" either. They aren't, because they aren't. Today, a new political chapter in Cyprus begins with the departure of Nicos Anastasiades, the last of the second generation of politicians.

The successor to Nikos Anastasiades will have to break free from outdated political discourse from previous eras. He should avoid slogans and quotes, which are dangerous for the country if we know anything about history. A new 'adamant struggle,' ideological rigidities, and personalism may excite the party faithful, but they leave the rest of society coldly indifferent. The rest of society is not interested in shooting stars whose only concern is their image. It seeks a new national strategy. A rebranding of Cyprus in which confidence is restored and the image is improved through significant breakthroughs and reforms. A Cyprus that will be appealing to our young people.  Above all, in this new era, society expects courage from its new leader. The courage to refuse another term in office while the Cyprus problem remains unresolved. In order to save political careers, and political capital, and for some to remain in power for a little longer.

We seek an institutionally sound government. And this will only happen if the country's political staff understands when it is truly beneficial. And when they run out of energy, when they realize their plan to change Cyprus has failed, let them leave generously, leaving others to do their best.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]


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