by Pavlos Xanthoulis
I've watched and re-watched President Anastasiades' recent statements several times. The abrupt change of heart and his decision to support Averof Neophytou just 80 days before the election. And I wondered, what had changed? What happened in the last few weeks to make Nicos Anastasiades feel this need that he hadn't felt in a year?
Did the RIK poll showing the DISY president breaking the 10% barrier in his attempt to reach Christodoulides play a role, and did the President of the Republic say to push a little harder, giving Averoff an extra push? Or did he see the Alpha poll, which showed Christodoulides leading the DISY president by nearly 18 percentage points, and conclude that the situation is irreversible, so he says let's back Averof because nothing will change?
I believe the answer is more complicated. After all, the findings of these polls, particularly in terms of numbers, are so diametrically opposed and so far out of line with other polls that I doubt they could sway anyone's opinion. Let alone the President of the Republic.
The President of the Republic even chose to attend, along with Averof Neophytou, an event in Limassol, where the President of DISY is having difficulty rallying supporters. And Nicos Anastasiades indicated that "we must not experiment" and that "the greatest service we will give to our country" is "continuing only with Averof Neophytou." Wasn't President Anastasiades aware of and/or supportive of all of this a year ago? Anastasiades' positions, in any case, only move in one direction. They express their support for Averof Neophytou while not putting Nikos Christodoulides up against the wall. This is being documented. In other words, the President of the Republic is moving "in the realm of the minimum" in his support for Averof Neophytou's candidacy, leaving Nikos Christodoulides largely out of the picture, about whom the only negative thing said from the presidential lips is that he did not agree to endorse a draft statement prepared by Nicos Anastasiades himself a year ago to defuse the tension (Sigma interview).
The fact that President Anastasiades' statements of even minimal support for Averof Neophytou were activated after the disclosure of the spikes that the DISY president attributed to him, about "invisible elephants," should be factored into the equation. This statement contains an element of Averof Neophytou's own goal, as he was forced to publicly admit that Nicos Anastasiades did not support his candidacy, as he had hoped. At the same time, we should not overlook the fact that he shifted the deck, essentially forcing Nicos Anastasiades to come out publicly and take a stand. And it is clear that Averof Neophytou took the risk of his own goal, investing on the one hand in the interest of the President of the Republic for the next day in DISY and on the other knowing that Nicos Anastasiades will find it difficult to express this interest and be convincing if he is blamed for a split due to his attitude toward Nicos Christodoulides.
As a result, the president's political pirouette is moving along the lines of posthumous public support for Averof Neophytou. But it is not exhausted in this, as it is primarily related to the next day in DISY, for which Nicos Anastasiades will de facto have a "say," if he is not blamed for not supporting the official candidacy of the ruling party and for "supporting tolerance" - if anything - of Nicos Christodoulides' corresponding candidacy. A day will come when Nicos Anastasiades' "reason" will be more important if Averof Neophytou is not successful in the elections, and even more so if he is excluded from the second round.
This is a scenario that, according to the official DISY, "does not play out," but that does not stop some people from preparing and writing alternative speeches to cover all possibilities.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]