NICOSIA - It seems that no prediction is safe for tomorrow’s elections of the leadership of junior coalition partner Diko with insiders saying “it’s all up for grabs”.
But what seems to be ‘absolutely’ certain is a ferocious battle for the centre party’s second top position between MEP Antigoni Papadopoulou and former foreign minister Marcos Kyprianou.
“All is up in the air, no one can really predict the outcome of these elections because it is not a contest between those in favour of (incumbent leader) Nicolas Papadopoulos versus those supporting (ex leader) Marios Garoyian,” an insider told The Cyprus Weekly.
“Every position’s candidate is a personal choice for voters…but a real hard battle is foreseen between Antigoni and Marcos for the deputy leader’s position. They both have their followers,” added the insider.
Another hot contest is that for the third top position between Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas – a staunch supporter of Papadopoulos – and former health minister Christos Patsalides from the Garoyian camp.
A total of 16 candidates are contesting the party’s top four positions – except that of the president.
Elections for the very top position took place on December 1 with Papadopoulos getting 51.12% of the vote to Garoyian’s 48.88%.
Registered voters in the latest contest were 38,605 members – including over 19,000 new ones – but only about 64% cast a ballot.
A big surprise in this contest was Antigoni Papadopoulou’s decision to run against Kyprianou – the son of former President and founder of Diko. He is trying to make a comeback after the Mari blast tragedy when his term in office as foreign minister ended up in disaster.
Kyprianou stood trial for his political role behind the July 2011 explosion which killed 13 people and injured dozens but was later acquitted.
With one foot outside the fragile centre-right governing coalition, Diko’s spokesman Christiana Erotocritou said yesterday “whether we stay or not it does not affect Sunday’s elections”.
“The party’s positions on the Cyprus problem are long standing and the messages we (leadership) receive show that the final decision whether we will stay or not does not affect Sunday’s elections,” Erotocritou said.
Diko believes that a leaked draft communiqué highlighting the Cyprus problem’s key principles of an overall solution is unacceptable.
They argue that the key principle of sovereignty of a federal Cyprus is not safeguarded and made clear that a government split is unavoidable if President Anastasiades kick-starts the peace process based on that communique.
Erotocritou, herself a candidate for a high-ranking position, also said that with election results expected to be finalised early on Monday, the new members will decide on Tuesday or Wednesday over the coalition’s future.
“Unlike in the past, whatever decision is taken will be taken in a democratic way.”
Tomorrow’s elections are for the key positions of deputy leader, vice-president, secretary general and organisation secretary, as well as for members of the executive office and of district offices.
Close allies of newly-elected leader want to take over control from Garoyian’s camp.
The candidates for deputy leader are Kyprianou, Papadopoulou, Yiannis Ioannou, George Constantinou, Costas Mavrides and Constantinos Panayi.
For the vice-president’s position, candidates are Vergas and Patsalides as well as Ioannis Armeftis and Constantinos Panayi.
For the Secretary General’s position, the runners are retired CyBC chief Themis Themistocleous, Stelios Ieronymides, Marinos Moushouttas, Nestoras Nestoros and Alecos Tryfonides.
And for the position of General Organisation Secretary, runners are incumbent Phytos Constantinou versus Avraam Solomou.