- Sport : Monaco offers Hamilton his best chance yet
- Cyprus : Schulz calls for ‘spirit of solidarity’ towards Cyprus as...
- our view : Our View: Both AKEL and DISY guilty of double standards when it...
- Charilaos Stavrakis : Ministry official points the finger at Stavrakis
- Central Bank : Central Bank sees 'substantial' risks to economy
- bank of cyprus : New CEO for BoC imminent
- Cyprus : Limassol marina receives first yachts
- Cyprus : Staff strike at Sigma and Hard Rock cafe
- British experts : Reform of public service underway
- aristo developers : ‘State will gain millions in taxes from sale of Venus Rock’
Polling statement spat much ado about nothing
THERE had to be one last row before the president was elected and the parties put the election campaign behind them. It was sparked by a statement made by Nicos Anastasiades after he had voted in Limassol yesterday morning.
His statement was picked up by the AKEL general secretary Andros Kyprianou, who felt it was a blatant violation of the election law which stipulated that campaigning had to end at midnight on Friday. Attempts at influencing the voters, through statements or advertising, after Friday midnight was a violation of the law.
Kyprianou said he had reported Anastasiades to the Chief Returning Officer, because he “had directed a clear and obvious plea to people to vote for his candidacy which is not allowed by the law.”
President Christofias was also saddened when he heard, “first thing in the morning, the law being violated by statements which show anything but respect to the citizen and the Republic.”
It is a bizarre law that prevents a candidate to back his own candidacy on the day of the elections. It is not as if people would consider his comments objective and unbiased.
And the truth is that when a candidate stands in front of dozens of TV cameras, outside the polling station after voting, even without saying anything he is inviting people to vote for him and therefore ‘illegally campaigning’.
KYPRIANOU said he was “genuinely saddened because there was a violation of the law which stipulates how politicians should conduct themselves when voting.”
Informed about the complaint, Anastasiades, cheekily said: “I am certain Mr Kyprianou did not read today’s Haravghi, otherwise his first complaint would have been against the (Akel) party publication, which clearly positioned itself in favour of Mr Malas.”
Haravghi’s front page banner headline urged readers to give a “Cross to Stavros”, a blatant case of election-day campaigning, even though it could have been argued that this would not have influenced its readers as they would have voted for Malas anyway.
The DISY candidate’s dig prompted a written statement from the AKEL leader who was surprised that Anastasiades thought he was justified to break the law because Haravghi had done so. “If Haravghi and any other news medium has broken the law then the appropriate procedure must be followed,” he said.
“But it is not acceptable for a presidential candidate, seeking the vote of the people, to use publications as a pretext to break the law,” concluded Kyprianou adding: “All we who represent institutions must set the good example and act accordingly.”
BUT WHAT had Anastasiades said? “There are two choices: one is to extend and continue today’s administration and the impasses we are facing. The other is the choice of a new era.
“I want to believe that all citizens would go to the polling booths and consciously choose the fate of our country - either to go forward or stay in the past.”
It was not as blatant as the Haravghi headline but it was still campaigning. Then again what is a candidate supposed to say when he is faced by the cameras and journalists asking questions? Candidates used all the clichιs about elections being ‘a celebration of democracy’, ‘today the people will speak’, ‘the sacred right to vote’ and ‘total respect for the result’ last Sunday.
IN THE END it was a case of much ado about nothing. The Chief Returning Officer Andreas Assiotis, after consulting the state legal services to which he had sent a transcript of the allegedly illegal statement, said it did not violate any of the provisions of the legislation.
He said the matter of election-day statements had been discussed with the legal services and “special authorisation” had been given to the two candidates to make statements.
“The action of the candidates to make statements during election-day is legally permissible on the basis of the special authorisation granted by the Returning Officer in accordance with the relevant legislation,” said Assiotis.
Had Christofias and Kyprianou misinterpreted the election law or was the Returning Officer fudging the issue in order to stay on the good side of the man who would be president?
THE HOT favourite to win was obvious when each candidate arrived at their respective polling stations. Anastasiades, accompanied by his wife, daughters, sons-in-law and three grandchildren, was mobbed by supporters waiting for him, cameramen and reporters complaining that they could not get access to him.
And when he came out to make the allegedly illegal statement, there was a danger that he would be pushed to the floor by the hundreds of supporters who insisted on standing behind pushing everyone forward.
A rather annoyed Anastasiades turned back and gave his supporters an exasperated look but stopped himself from saying anything. There was no stampede and he eventually composed himself to utter the few words that angered Christofias and Kyprianou.
PEOPLE flock to the winner which perhaps explained why Malas’ arrival at the polling station in Archangelos was rather low-key affair. Hardly anyone showed up to greet Malas as he arrived with his wife, his AKEL minder Nicos Katsourides and his communications advisor Costas Gouliamos.
There were a dozen other people standing behind him while he made the obligatory statement to reporters, but it was a pitiful turnout, especially compared to his rival’s. For the first time at election stations candidates made statements in English at the polling stations for the benefit of Turkish journalists and film crews that were covering the elections.
NOBODY was mentioning exit polls yesterday after the previous Sunday’s fiasco, which had Anastasiades taking more than 50 per cent of the vote and his camp preparing victory celebrations before the polling stations had even closed.
Yesterday, none of the pollsters dared release any information about the voting before the polling stations closed at 6pm, even though an Anastasiades victory was a dead certainty. All TV stations had their predictions ready a few minutes after 6pm and they were all pretty much the same, as they had been the previous Sunday.
The range they gave Anastasiades was between 57 and 62 per cent and Malas 37 to 43 per cent and they were all correct. Malas received the maximum he was predicted and Anastasiades the minimum and everyone was happy.
ARE THERE any plans by the Giorgos Lillikas camp to remove that massive poster of their candidate, stretched across the Gavrielides building on one of Nicosia’s busiest junctions? We would have expected it to have been removed last Monday but it is still there.