Incumbent Diko leader Marios Garoyian and the coalition party’s MP Nicolas Papadopoulos yesterday submitted their candidacies for the leadership post with elections set for December 1.
Both heavyweight contestants sent the message that they expect Diko voters to back the best man for the job.
But Garoyian could not help giving his high-profile opponent a punch below the belt.
He said: “The best candidate for Diko’s leadership cannot be the one who uses this position as a stepping stone for higher personal ambitions.”
He was implying that his opponent and son of late President Tassos Papadopoulos eyes the country’s future leadership.
“Best for the job is the one who can inspire the party’s members and who can trust him in their bid to make Diko a useful social tool that will change the political system and that of governance,” Garoyian added.
Papadopoulos, who is also the House Finance Committee chairman, submitted his candidacy accompanied by his family (photo) and 200 Diko members - including many party founders.
And staunch supporters of his late father who was himself, the Diko leader before becoming Cyprus president in 2003.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled to contest a position that historic leaders such as Spyros Kyprianou and Tassos Papadopoulos held in the past,” Papadopoulos said.
“On December 1, Diko’s members who hold no party positions have the right and the power to decide who is most suitable for the presidency of our historic party. They have the right, the power and the ability to decide upon the future of Diko… Together, we can give the Democratic Party a new perspective,” he added.
Throughout the week, the war within Diko has reached boiling point with the registry of members being the main bone of contention.
Papadopoulos demands access to the party’s registry but Garoyian’s camp will not allow it.
They argue that the confidentiality of the registry – with over 19,000 new members now – has to be protected.
MPs affiliated to Garoyian also argue that this was leaked in the past to candidates not even backed by the party, referring to last February’s presidential election runner George Lillikas.
He was backed by Papadopoulos even though his party officially endorsed Nicos Anastasiades.
Anastasiades won the election and Lillikas, who came third but with quite a respectable percentage, has since launched his own political movement – Citizens’ Alliance. Lillikas firmly denies the accusations.
Analysts argue that it will be hard for Papadopoulos to beat Garoyian who is unlikely to change the party’s status quo.
It is almost certain that if Papadopoulos wins the elections the future of the Disy-Diko government coalition will be in jeopardy.