Christofias out, Omiriu in

Christofias out, Omiriu in

Over and over for the past six months in this column, sometimes in between the lines, but at least twice in rather straightforward ways, I’ve said that comrade Demetris Christofias would most likely be out of the presidential race in the all-Greek-administered Republic of Cyprus and that efforts were underway to forge an electoral coalition aimed at preventing the election of Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of the center-right Democratic Rally party (DISY) at any cost.

For months the name of socialist Ioannakis Omiriu, the leader of the Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK), was being whispered as the probable and eventual “consensus candidate” by the powerful Greek Cypriot church, to the political parties and the die-hard nationalist and indeed even the fascist groups. Yet until today, Omiriu has not yet disclosed his candidacy. Why? A source with rather intelligent insight into the workings of “upper politics” in southern Cyprus, a land famous with its political intrigues, provided a glimpse of what might be in the pipeline. 

“The aim is to prevent Anastasiades from getting elected president. He has been supporting views very similar to those of the Turkish side. He does not want a strong central government, but supports a loose federation bordering a confederation. He must be kept away from the presidency. A strong candidate must be brought forward by his opponents if he is not wanted to be the next president. That candidate could not be Christofias, he has killed his own political prospects with persistent mistakes. No one have confidence in him any longer. There is a web of other candidates, but they are all rather weak names. None could achieve the unity required to beat Anastasiades in the election. Omiriu – very much like the church as well as most center-right anti-settlement or “Oxi” (no) electorate – wants a strong Cyprus Republic with Turkish Cypriots provided with advanced autonomous rights and a degree of say in the central government.” 

But, why is Omiriu withholding announcing his candidacy? The reason is indeed one that fits well with the reputation of southern Cyprus as the last territory with Byzantine politics. Omiriu and his political mentors in this presidential race are waiting until all other candidates tire out so that the name of Omiriu can emerge as a consensus candidate capable of beating the “unwanted Anastasiades”.

Of course nothing can be certain in politics until the end of the game when the score is announced. Plans of strategists pushing Omiriu up to the presidency have worked rather well so far. Persistent internal and external policy mistakes, as well as in the handling of the Cyprus problem helped to get rid of Christofias as the incumbent has thrown in the towel and announced he would not seek reelection. Yet, while it might be considered to be easier to win support through exploiting nationalism and the Turkish enmity and in consecutive public opinion polls opponents of power sharing in a federal government with Turkish Cypriots on the basis of political equality appear to be over 65 percent, with a proper strategy Anastasiades might still upset this “Oxi” coalition and get elected president with an affirmative strategy.

After all, like their Turkish Cypriot compatriots Greek Cypriots are getting frustrated as well with the Cyprus quagmire.