Cypriot voters have elected a 24-year-old YouTube star as an independent to the European Parliament.

Fidias Panayiotou, best known for audacious comedy clips and prank videos, shot to social media fame with stunts such as a mission to hug 100 celebrities, pizza-eating contests and video blogs showing him dodging fares on Japanese bullet trains.

Known as ‘Fidias’ to his 2.6 million followers, he’s a self-described ‘professional mistake maker’ with no political experience or party affiliation.

But he launched a campaign enticing young people to vote in the weekend elections, and is now headed for Brussels as an MEP.

In a unexpected victory seen as a rejection of traditional politics, he garnered 19.4 percent of the vote in the Mediterranean island-nation.

Cypriot voters have elected 24-year-old YouTube star Fidias Panayiotou as an independent to the European Parliament. Pictured: Fidias is seen celebrating on Sunday night after his win

Cypriot voters have elected 24-year-old YouTube star Fidias Panayiotou as an independent to the European Parliament. Pictured: Fidias is seen celebrating on Sunday night after his win

Opinion polls consistently showed Panayiotou garnering high numbers, but no one expected him to perform so well solely through his social media fame after a mere two-month campaign in which he essentially offered no political positions.

In his first remarks after polls closed and initial results showed him steadily in third place, Fidias, who goes only by his first name, said a ‘miracle’ had been achieved, conceding that he himself didn’t believe he would pull in such numbers.

‘It was a shock what happened, a miracle,’ Panayiotou told state broadcaster CyBC in a video posted on social media platform X. ‘The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people.’

He added: ‘This could be the first time that a completely independent candidate who doesn’t have even an inkling of support from a political party, has managed to get elected, with social media being his only weapon,’ Fidias said.

News website Philenews called Panayiotou’s rise a ‘resounding’ message to established political parties and a major step towards ‘changing the political map’.

‘The young YouTuber, fully utilising social media, with non-political rhetoric, without political positions, without knowledge – he admits it himself – of the European Union sphere, managed to bring about upheaval,’ the website said.

Analysts said that Panayiotou, who has no comprehensive agenda, had shown that traditional parties were out of touch with voters and lacked understanding of social media and its impact.

Known as ‘Fidias’ to his 2.6 million followers, he’s a self-described ‘professional mistake maker’ with no political experience or party affiliation

The conservative party DISY took 24.8 percent, followed by communist AKEL with 21.5, costing it one of its two seats in the outgoing assembly.

Voters also sent a member of ultranationalist party ELAM to the European Parliament, echoing EU-wide gains to the far right in Sunday’s polls.

ELAM ran on an anti-immigration platform and won just over 11 percent of the votes, official results showed, giving the far-right party its first-ever European MP.

Panayiotou, the son of a Greek Orthodox Christian priest, used his social media presence to encourage young Cypriots to head out to the polls.

He has more than 2.6 million subscribers on YouTube and has also posted his content on Instagram and TikTok.

His projects have included a mission to hug 100 celebrities including tech billionaire Elon Musk, spending a week in a coffin and training with China’s Shaolin kung fu warriors.

He has also got in hot water over some of his videos.

In September 2023, he uploaded a video oh himself riding the Bengaluru Metro in India for free. The management of the train service said they would file a criminal case against him for dodging the fares.

Then in October 2023, he posted another video of himself travelling across Japan for free with other YouTubers.

He would use trains and buses while skipping out on the fare, and also pass himself off as a guest at a hotel he was not staying in to score a free breakfast.

Fidias uploaded a video titled ‘I Travelled Across Japan For Free’ last year involving him and three others evading ticket officers

He also blagged a free buffet breakfast by pretending to be a hotel guest

He also blagged a free buffet breakfast by pretending to be a hotel guest

Fidias was again criticised, and made an apology video, which was later deleted.

YouTube also deleted the far dodging videos for breaching its community guidelines, along with other videos of him fare-dodging in the UK.

The Republic of Cyprus, the European Union’s easternmost member, has a population of some 900,000 people, of whom 683,432 were registered to vote.

Turnout was at 58.86 percent, up from 45 percent in the 2019 European polls – a rise analysts attribute at least in part to the ‘Fidias factor’.

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