Interview with Giorgos Loukaides, AKEL Political Bureau member and Parliamentary Leader

Sunday 26 February 2023, HARAVGI newspaper

  • AKEL’s role in opposition will be constructive but strict
  • The day after the elections finds us politically stronger
  • We are not complacent, even though we proved in practice that we were not finished as certain forces and circles wanted us to be
  • We were also confronted with negative facts, such as the right-wing conservative shift in society and the political system
  • We are starting a dialogue seeking to modernise and upgrade the institution of the new forces

QUESTION: How do you assess the day after the presidential elections and where does AKEL stand today?

GL: The process of proceeding to a collective evaluation of the election result has already started and has been completed up to the Political Bureau. It will be followed by a Central Committee meeting on 11 March. Our initial assessment is that the day after the presidential election finds AKEL politically stronger, despite the fact that it narrowly failed to elect Andreas Mavroyiannis to the Presidency of the Republic.

Despite the disappointment of not achieving the goal of progressive change, the day after finds the cadres, members and the people of the Left proud of the political feat we have achieved, against all predictions and against the wishful thinking of many who wanted and sought the opposite. We are talking about a political feat, and I do not think we are exaggerating. One only has to think of the 11% that the opinion polls initially showed us, the 22.3% that we received in the last parliamentary elections, and the fact that we remained the only political force that supported the independent candidacy of Andreas Mavroyiannis right up to the end.

Similarly, the additional difficulties in this electoral process, where a number of other factors worked against us and in favour of other candidates, must also be taken into account. Such as the role of the majority of the mass media, the exploitation of the state apparatus, the huge sums spent by the other two main candidates and so on.

Despite all this, Andreas Mavroyiannis received almost 30% in the first round and 48% in the second. From the result, and on the basis of scientific measurements, it is clear that, on the one hand, we achieved very high rates of rallying AKEL’s voters in the last parliamentary elections, but we also came into contact with a great many people on the left who, in previous elections, chose to abstain or made other choices.

At the same time, we also met with a great many people beyond the the3 spectrum of the Left, who believed in and supported the candidacy of Andreas Mavroyiannis in the first round, as well as with people who, in the second round, we met for the first time in an election, despite the attempts to demonise AKEL, which, unfortunately, was also attempted in these elections.

In the same positive context, we consider it particularly important that we were able to determine a political agenda on so many issues, which remains a legacy for the day after. From the Cyprus problem to the high cost of living/expensiveness and energy. From labour relations issues, such as the Cost of Living Allowance and the issue of 12% penalty on those choosing to retire at 63, to housing, education and the need to support the young generation. From the need to stamp out corruption to the green transition and a new, fairer economic model.

The day after, of course, finds Cyprus with Nicos Christodoulides as President-elect and our party in the role of a constructive but strict opposition, where and when required. The governance of N. Christodoulides will naturally be judged on the basis of its achievements. However, we cannot, nor do we want to, hide our deep concern about everything that we clearly recorded during the election campaign. We hope, on the other hand, that we will be proved wrong, because this will be to the benefit to Cyprus and our people.

QUESTION: Apart from “the vindication of AKEL’s decision to support Mavroyiannis as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic”, should the Left Party reflect on the outcome of the elections?

GL: The vindication of the decision taken to support Mavroyiannis’ candidacy is particularly important, in the spirit I mentioned earlier. The personal characteristics, as well as the political characteristics of the candidacy of Andreas Mavroyiannis, contributed decisively to the result of the two rounds of the elections.

That is precisely why I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andreas from the bottom of our heart for having fought with us this beautiful battle with honesty, authenticity and humanity. With clear political positions and proposals, with a progressive vision for Cyprus that we want and can achieve through our struggles. But without, unfortunately, having the favourable environment that a government of his own would create.

Obviously, our concern is not only about the positives we have gained from this electoral campaign. It is a top priority to address the negative facts that we have been confronted with. Such as the right-wing conservative shift in society, but unfortunately also in the political system.

At the same time, even though we have proved in practice that we are not finished, as certain forces and circles wanted us to be, and even though we have done very well at all levels of our electoral work, we are not resting on our laurels. On the contrary, we are determined to proceed immediately to take practical measures and actions, within the framework of the decisions taken at our last Congress, in order to improve our work in all areas of our party’s activities.

QUESTION: How does AKEL subsequently intend to make use of the message it got from the ballot box in view of the upcoming statutory Congress?

GL: We are fully aware that the election result will not automatically bring the recovery of AKEL and the expansion of its influence in Cypriot society to the levels it has been at for decades. However, on the one hand, it has created a very positive political framework on which we can build. On the other hand, it allows us to proceed decisively calmly and with sobriety in implementing the decisions taken at our last Congress.

The statutory Congress next autumn will be the final stage in this process. With the conclusion of the Central Committee meeting, we immediately get down to work, in the direction of discussing and deciding how to proceed with the necessary changes in the internal functioning and organisational model of the Party.

On a second level, we shall start the dialogue to modernise and upgrade the institution of the New Forces, an element even more necessary after the presidential elections because of the links we have established with an even greater number of personalities beyond the spectrum of the left.

In the same context, we will also discuss ways through which we can forge and build a strong social alliance for the progressive modernisation of our country, with all those forces and personalities with whom we agree on prominent issues such as the Cyprus problem, the fight against corruption and the rule of law, the green transition and ecology, and so on.

QUESTION: How do you interpret the new President’s position that the solution to society’s problems have no political colour (content)?

GL: We interpret it as it is written down. Namely, as yet another communicative soundbite that may sound good, but at the4 same time distracts from reality itself. Problems have reasons and causes and solutions assume political and ideological characteristics. In a world at large, and in a society in particular, where there are major conflicting interests, both problems and solutions have a specific content. For a large part of these problems or solutions that were given or not given at all, Mr. Christodoulides remains equally responsible for as he was a member of the outgoing Anastasiades government.

To the extent that the solutions that will be attempted to be sought will be similar to those implemented during the previous decade, unfortunately we cannot but expect a continuation of the steps backwards and deadlocks. As I said earlier, we are despairing of this and hope that we will see different approaches. But without being under any illusions.

“Nikos Christodoulides must convince the international community of his full respect for the body of work achieved at the negotiations”

Asked whether the new President will be considered a success in resuming the talks from where they left off, Giorgos Loukaides stresses that this was and remains AKEL’s main objective.

“If the new President seeks and succeeds in achieving this goal, he will have AKEL by his side throughout this effort to support him. But if he continues from where Nicos Anastasiades left off, if he continues from where he left off with the contradictory and not at all clear positions he expressed during the election campaign, we fear that not only will we not achieve the above objective, but on the contrary, the Cyprus problem will slide even nearer to the permanent partition of our homeland, with the fait accompli being consolidated and any remaining hopes being dashed. Only if Nikos Christodoulides declares and convinces the international community of his full respect for the body of work achieved at the negotiations can we hope for a resumption of the negotiations from the point where they had remained at Crans-Montana.

Only in this way can we confront the attempt by Turkey and Tatar to annul the negotiating acquis and derail the Cyprus problem from the agreed framework. We shall see!

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