12° Nicosia,
29 May, 2024
Home  /  News

The winners and losers of the Archiepiscopal elections

A review of the election results, the messages from the faithful, and the legacy of some prelates

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

The primary topic of discussion in the first round of voting last Sunday was the creation of the tripartite list from which the Holy Synod will select the incoming Primate of the Church of Cyprus. It cannot, however, be considered the only one.

If the main issue is temporarily set aside, Sunday's ballot provided interesting data on the faithful's participatory interest in the Church's top process and the acceptance of hierarchs, regardless of their final ranking and achievement of the personal goal of a seat in the tripartite. In this spirit, the ballot results can provide useful conclusions about the Church's level of influence in society, but also about each of the six prelates individually. The analysis of the results is especially important, regardless of how much secularism exists, because this is the first test since the 2006 archbishop elections.  The economic crisis that has hit Cypriot society, as well as the revelation that the Church has been involved in scandals that have rocked the society over the last ten years, have certainly increased reflection on the Church's role and the limits of its action.

The participation

The recurrence of low levels of citizen participation, in this case for the nomination of an Archbishop, is one issue to which the hierarchy and the new Archbishop should pay special attention. In 2006, 27% of citizens responded to the call to vote and went to the polls. It increased by three points in last Sunday's elections.  An increase that cannot be considered satisfactory, and which strengthens the case for limiting the election of archpriests within the Church, as is the case in other Orthodox Churches. Another point worth mentioning is the secular character of the period preceding the elections, which was fostered by the Holy Synod's decision to use the prelates in question as candidates in political elections, with few exceptions. According to church circles, the transformation of an ecclesiastical event into an electoral process may result in more intense manifestations of fanaticism than the protests of supporters of a particular prelate in the Archdiocese in 2006.

The winners

Even a process like the one last Sunday does not leave losers and winners in the church. Not by chance, the Metropolitan of Paphos and Supervisor of the Throne, George, raised this issue following the conclusion of the election process. However, taking into account the Church's accepted view that it is not impolite for prelates to have ambitions, in this case, an assessment of the outcome can be attempted. Despite predictions that do not give him much leeway in the Holy Synod election process, the Metropolitan of Limassol is considered the big winner.  Not only because of the percentage (35.68%) he received, but also because he has been able to keep a solid core of followers around him since 2006. The Metropolitan of Paphos, George, is also among the winners, regardless of his participation in the tripartite. The 18.39% is thought to have exceeded all expectations and demonstrated that the hierarch had achieved significant penetration in provinces other than his metropolitan region, including Limassol, Larnaca, and Nicosia.


The percentage and third place in the three-person race leaves a mixed taste of emotions in the Metropolitan of Tamassos and Orini, based on initial expectations and predictions that had him as one of the two undisputed favorites.  Isaiah met his objective of qualifying for the three-person race, but he did not declare that he is the people's choice. Without considering whether he will be the next archbishop, the 18.10% he received in the election is a solid foundation that can be built on and provide a foundation for the prelate's ambitions, which will not end with the outcome of the Holy Synod. Tamasso's Isaiah should be concerned about the decline in his ratings near the end of the pre-election period. 

The case of Morphou

Metropolitan Neophytos was and remained a peculiar case of a candidate whose behavior had worldly elements of eccentricity at times. His refusal to vote in the archbishop's election, despite having accepted the process by submitting a candidacy, is a typical example. Aside from the three faces, Morphou Neophytus can be described as one of the winners of the archbishop elections. The 9.80 percent for a candidate who did not appear to be active in the run-up to the elections, and in some cases appeared to snub them, is considered unusually high. In fact, with more than 11% of the votes counted, he was in fourth place with up to 35% of the votes counted.  Initial estimates of his premium have declined in tandem with his percentage. Morphous' percentage demonstrated that the prelate's recent social discourse and stance on the pandemic have created a strong group of believers that extends beyond his district. Morphou Neophytos, it is widely assumed, will "invest" in what he has accomplished in the long run.

Famagusta and Kyrenia

Under normal circumstances, the Metropolitan of Constantia and Famagusta (14.79%) would not have been among the losers if it had not been for the open disagreements and criticisms of Famagusta residents against those living in other provinces.  If there is one issue that needs to be researched, it is how those from Famagusta vote outside of Famagusta. The low turnout in provinces with a high number of refugees from Famagusta is concerning, and a first reading demonstrates that, despite 'Famagustans' best efforts, spiritual unity is not being achieved. If one were to look for a reason for Vassilios' failure at the level of elections, the main one was his inability to rally those from Famagusta in Limassol, Larnaca, and Nicosia. The case of the Metropolitan of Kyrenia cannot be reduced to the obvious characterization of a loser from the start. What continues to raise concerns is the metropolitan's participation in a difficult-to-manage process.

[This article was first published in Kathimerini's 'Oikonomiki' printed edition and was translated from its Greek original]


News: Latest Articles