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Candidates bask in the spotlight
A RECORD 11 people submitted their candidacy yesterday at the Hilton in Nicosia for the February 17 presidential elections.
Cameramen, photographers and journalists stalked the comings and goings of the candidates as they each came at a set time with their respective supporters for an orchestrated dance that started at 9am sharp and was over by noon.
First up was AKEL-backed Stavros Malas whose entourage included former finance minister Kikis Kazamias, AKEL parliamentary representative Nicos Katsourides, and agriculture minister Sophoclis Aletraris who also nominated him as candidate.
Escorted by his wife and with AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou by his side, Malas presented his papers and travelled the room to sit on a long and narrow table decorated with a flower arrangement.
Around the table, Malas – surrounded by his team – had a chat with Chief Returning Officer Andreas Assiotis as they waited for the election service to confirm that his paperwork was in order. A few signatures later, team Malas took their seat at an area arranged with two couches and a side table for a relaxed cup of tea before the inevitable statements.
We need a leader that can tackle the indebted island’s economy head-on, Malas said. AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou took the podium to appeal to “progressive members of the public”, saying Malas was their only hope for reunifying the island, defending the workers, and securing the island’s safety and welfare.
It was only the main contenders who sat down for the benefit of photographers and cameramen for that cup of tea.
Independent candidate Makaria Antri Stylianou, an assistant head at a primary school, was up next but there were no bells and whistles for her.
She submitted her candidacy, paid the €1,710 fee, and in her statement told people they had a choice, to show they have had enough with the political system and create the change they want to see.
It was the turn of the head of the Citizen’s Rights Bureau of the Popular Socialist Movement LASOK, Lakis Ioannou, who accused authorities and the media of “silencing” alternative voices. But in the meantime, the vibrant Costas Kyriacou Outopos distracted people by peeking in the room and waving hello as he waited for his turn. Wearing a green bandana, a green sporty jacket and jeans, Outopos walked to the Hilton all smiles. He was also the only male candidate who eschewed a suit.
Ripples of conversation formed on his outlandish statements of a Mormon conspiracy against democracy, and his version of a utopian society (hence his moniker Outopos). He said the answer to the financial crisis was lovemaking.
Though some made a joke of the candidacy, a police officer jumped in to defend him. “Would you have the guts stand in front of all those television cameras?” he asked as the day was winding down and they were waiting for the closing statements.
Others had no problem standing in front of the cameras.
Praxoula Antoniadou-Kyriacou has already been making headlines for singing in entertainment charity show ‘DanSing For You, broadcast by MEGA TV. She sang as a duet with well known Greek singer Dakis and has even performed in spoof show ‘Patates Antinachtes’ as herself.
She has also reportedly petitioned the director of a play showing in Anemona theatre to dabble in the play. Daily Phileleftheros has reported that she will have a singing part in the play, though Antoniadou-Kyriacou did not confirm or deny the report yesterday.
Looking immaculate in a dark pink skirt suit, pearls gracing her neck, she asked people to break free from the old-style politics and to choose someone who could give them a way out of the crisis.
As she made her statements, jubilant main contender, DISY-leader Nicos Anastasiades, was already posing for the cameras himself with family, grandchildren, friends, and members of his party and supporting partners DIKO. The lobby leading to the Hilton room was too small for his entourage, and Anastasiades- smile glued on his face – seemed all too happy to stand further out to accommodate the crowds. An all-star procession walked inside.
In addition to DISY and DIKO brass, the numerous supporters included popular singer Michalis Hadjiyiannis; the outspoken psychiatrist, TV personality and newspaper columnist Yiangos Mikellides; Nobel laureate Christophoros Pissarides - who also nominated him - and the Archbishopric’s accountant Yiannos Charilaou, to name but a few. Photographers jostled to photograph Anastasiades and his associates, irking the cameramen who had no clear shot of the sit-down on the couches, the reserve of the big players.
The last of the main contenders, EDEK-backed Giorgos Lillikas, looked dapper and confident and even more so when honorary EDEK president Dr Vassos Lyssarides showed up just in time to take his place in the comfortable couches. “The doctor is coming,” EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou said, as he joined Lillikas who had already filed his candidacy. Lyssarides, affectionately referred to as ‘the doctor’ firmly declared his support for Lillikas. Lillikas was nominated by Irene Mandoles, whose mother Charita has been a prominent figure in efforts to discover the whereabouts of missing persons, including that of her husband and his family. And to reinforce his message that he was a candidate of the people, the eight people vouching for Lillikas’ candidacy were all unemployed. Candidates need to be nominated by someone, and vouched for by eight others for their application to be valid.
Economist Andreas Andreou, was disappointed to realise he could not submit an application because he did not have anyone to vouch for him. He lingered for a while wondering if he could get anyone to support him. He said that he wanted to run as president so he could express himself.
The other candidates did harness enough supporters. The far right party ELAM candidate Georgios Charalambous kept a low profile.
Andreas Efstratiou asked people to support him because politicians had failed them. Farmer Solon Gregoriou asked people to wake up from their slumber, while another independent, Loucas Stavrou, warned people that the politicians they vote to power “will continue eating from silver spoons, throwing leftovers to the people.”
Meanwhile, parliament has decided to keep ballots open for an hour longer on voting day. Voters will have until 6pm to vote on February 17.