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26 May, 2024
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What factors played a role in Christodoulides' election?

The society's loose ties with the parties, the well-polished image, and the President's support

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Nikos Christodoulidis is the eighth President of the Republic of Cyprus and the first in history to not only be the first to cut the thread in the first round of presidential elections without the support of one of the two major parties but also to be elected President while facing AKEL and the leadership of DISY. The question is why Nikos Christodoulidis was elected despite the fact that he was opposed by two major parties.

The polished image

The big question right now is what (the) next step (will) be. Will he be able to demonstrate that he will form a government that is widely accepted, or will he stick with the parties that backed him?

He had made a conscious decision to avoid conflicts and confrontations with the opposition since being appointed as Nikos Anastasiadis' government representative. Any statements he made were limited to the Cypriot issue, establishing a leadership profile for him and laying the groundwork for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the responses and, at times, contradictory statements against AKEL were always handled by the deputy government representative Viktoros Papadopoulos. Some saw it as a sign of moderation, while others, such as Haris Georgiadis and Constantinos Petridis, saw it as a sign of impending wrinkles.  All of this made him particularly liked by a large portion of society and at the same time made him very necessary to Nikos Anastasiadis. This was combined with the very effective communication network he built with some of the media and with journalists, passing the government's narrative with ease. The parties in the middle who wanted to hide their percentages were able to slink behind him thanks to the positive image he presented in the opinion polls from the start.

Independent and DISY at heart

As a result, he became Nikos Anastasiadis' "closest partner," in the words of the departing president himself. Given this, the President found it difficult to oppose Nikos Christodoulidis verbally when he announced his candidacy as an independent outside the DISY party. Additionally, Mr. Christodoulidis frequently emphasized his DISY identity, which led some DISY party members to decide against voting for him. Votes for Nikos Christodoulidis continued to leak as a result of the post-election dispute between Nikos Anastasiadis and Averof Neofytou, in which the President backed Nikos Christodoulidis.

The vote against Europe and the poor publicity campaign

The fact that the President of DISY, Averof Neofytou, had a very bad image in society and even within the party helped Nikos Christodoulidis' candidacy. After all, this is documented in the polls' qualitative data. In fact, when combined with DISY's harshly partisan rhetoric throughout the pre-election period, with references to party patriotism and renegades, they heightened the rest of society's dissatisfaction with the DISY candidate. Aside from the hardcore, who would support DISY anyway, few people can identify with this story. Especially in a society where the bonds between citizens and political parties are fraying.

DISY voters who were concerned that if Christodoulidis were elected, he would co-govern with the intermediate space appear to have been reassured by the newly elected President's statements that he will open the door to cooperation with DISY and that he is already talking with alarmist officials. Keeping the political leaders of the middle ground at bay, contributed to this complacency and the retention of alarmist voters. Simultaneously, Nikos Christodoulidis reportedly recognized from the start that his candidacy's weakness in comparison to his two main opponents could be organizational shortcomings.  It is no coincidence that he invested heavily in the organizational aspect, not only with his own people but also with those who participated in pre-election campaigns like Giorgos Lillikas.

The big question right now is what Nikos Christodoulides' next step is expected to be. Will he be able to demonstrate that he will form a government that is widely accepted, or will he stick with the parties that backed him?

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  elections  |  analysis

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