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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-05-29

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Tuesday, May 29, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] DISY seen weathering mid-term disaffection
  • [02] Setting the stage for the presidentials
  • [03] Sigma and ANT1 accused of election law breach for screening polls
  • [04] Celebration for some despair for others
  • [05] Provisional list of deputies elected to the House of Representatives
  • [06] Greece sees new parliament pursuing EU entry
  • [07] Denktash: results show Greek Cypriots don't want solution
  • [08] Greek government postpones Olympic decision
  • [09] Eurocypria pilots 'satisfied' with new proposal

  • [01] DISY seen weathering mid-term disaffection

    By Martin Hellicar

    VOTERS may have given AKEL top spot in Sunday's parliamentary elections, but governing DISY have at least as much reason to be satisfied with the way the vote swung, political analysts said yesterday.

    Final results, which came out early yesterday afternoon, gave left-wing opposition party AKEL 34.71 per cent of the vote, up almost 2 per cent compared to the last parliamentary elections, in 1996. This gave AKEL the largest share of the popular vote for the first time in 20 years and sparked wild celebrations amongst its supporters. Right wing DISY secured 34 per cent of the vote, down by just under half a per cent compared to 1996.

    "Numerically, it was a victory for AKEL but in reality it was a victory for DISY," political analyst Sofronis Sofroniou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The losses suffered by DISY are seen as insignificant, given that they are in government. "In the middle of a presidential term the parties that support the government suffer a kind of decline, but this did not happen for DISY," Sofroniou said.

    The Stock Market dive, a major issue in pre-election campaigning, was a factor that could have turned many voters away from DISY, especially as many observers and investors blamed the government for the market's freefall. But DISY seem to have ridden the storm.

    Another factor that could have worked against DISY was the fact that three of the new parties making it into parliament are basically right-wing parties: New Horizons, ADIK and the Greens, when you look at their policy on the national issue. "Yet DISY have not really lost any votes despite all these factors," Sofroniou said.

    Anti-federalists New Horizons won 3.1 per cent of the vote, ADIK 2.16 and the Greens 1.96.

    In a country with an electorate as conservative as Cyprus', it was never likely that AKEL's extra votes would come from disaffected right-wing voters. AKEL's boost more likely came at the expense of Sunday's big losers, social democrats KISOS.

    Disillusioned left-wing KISOS supporters are thought to have defected en- masse to 'hard-core' left-wingers AKEL.

    "AKEL won some votes from KISOS, which is in disarray at the moment," Sofroniou said. Vassos Lyssarides' KISOS were hammered on Sunday, netting just 6.5 per cent of the vote, down 1.7 per cent compared to 1996, when the party ran as Socialists EDEK.

    "KISOS were big losers because they changed from EDEK - that is one factor - but also because Lyssarides has been bossing that party and there is a lot of disaffection inside the party which has not expressed itself," Sofroniou said. This disaffection has filtered down to voters. "Maybe Lyssarides should have stepped down," the analyst said.

    KISOS also suffered because in 1998, as EDEK, they backed President Clerides for re-election in the second round of the Presidentials.

    A similar decision to back right-winger Clerides in February 1998 has cost pro-Europeans the United Democrats (UD) far more dearly, Sofroniou suggested.

    George Vassiliou's UD were Sunday's other big losers, getting just 2.59 per cent of the vote, down 1 per cent compared to 1996.

    While KISOS were quick to abandon the coalition with DISY struck up after the 1998 elections, the UD stayed on board. Unlike DISY, junior government partners UD did not, it would appear, stand up to the 'wear-and-tear' of being in government. "The United Democrats suffered for being a government party. But also, the party is really leaderless, having its three top personalities in government: George Vassiliou as chief EU negotiator, Costas Themistocleous as Agriculture Minister and Michalis Papapetrou as Government Spokesman," Sofroniou said. A disappointed Vassiliou yesterday complained of being unable to devote "any time at all" to party matters.

    DIKO did not fair well on Sunday - they won 14.8 per cent of the vote, down 1.6 per cent compared to 1996 - but the party does appear to be arresting its slide in popularity. This is attributed largely to Spyros Kyprianou stepping down as leader and Tassos Papadopoulos taking over. "Kyprianou stepping down improved DIKO positions, which consolidated after a big slide in the Presidentials," Sofroniou said.

    The big elections surprise was Dinos Michaelides, the former Interior Minister who resigned in the face of corruption allegations two years ago, getting re-elected with his ADIK party.

    ADIK has no distinctive policies and is basically a one-man party, most observers agree. Michaelides' influence as a former Minister, plus a catchy campaign message promoting ADIK as the 'problem-solvers' are seen as the key to the former Minister's election.

    "Dinos Michaelides was the big surprise, but he had a good campaign message. What is more, his support came not only from fellow Limassolians, but was spread throughout the island - something very unusual. Basically, ADIK is a one-man party with not particular, identifiable policy," Sofroniou said.

    Nicos Koutsou's New Horizons, who made it into the House for the first time after gaining a respectable 3.1 per cent of Sunday's vote, benefited by tapping into disaffection with the proposed federal Cyprus settlement. "New Horizons was a bit of a protest vote, but also there are many who are unhappy with the methods for of solving the Cyprus problem and New Horizons are completely different in this area," Sofroniou said.

    The Green party's success in scrapping into parliament at the second time of asking is attributed to the high profile the environmentalists have managed to maintain in the run-up to polling. A vote for the greens was also widely viewed as a genuine protest vote, observers suggest.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Setting the stage for the presidentials

    By Martin Hellicar

    HOUSE elections are viewed as a 'stage-setter' for the 2003 Presidential poll, but Sunday's vote did little to clear up what alliances might be formed in the coming months.

    The big three, AKEL, DISY and DIKO, basically maintained their share of the vote, thus leaving the scenario as it was.

    The emergence of so many "fringe" parties does, however, add a certain spice to the Presidential wheeler dealing.

    With no single party strong enough to elect a President single-handedly, striking an alliance with one or more other parties is key to winning in 2003, when Clerides will be withdrawing.

    Left-wing AKEL, who won Sunday's elections with almost 35 per cent of the vote, will feel they can flex their vote-pulling muscle as parties begin to jockey for position. Right wing DISY, who finished a shade behind AKEL, are the other powerhouse.

    Centre-right DIKO, despite a disappointing 15 per cent showing on Sunday, are well ahead of the pack of five other small parties and will be the main target for charm offensives from AKEL and DISY.

    As fellow opposition parties, AKEL and DIKO seem to be natural partners for 2003, but political analysts say things are far from clear-cut.

    "Many expect AKEL and DIKO to do to a deal, but this will be very difficult as AKEL are wary of supporting DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos - they would be afraid that many voters would abandon them - so would like a independent, a more low profile person," said Sofronis Sofroniou.

    DIKO did not secure enough of Sunday's vote to lend Papadopoulos the strength to insist he be the choice for an AKEL-DIKO partnership.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides, despite being a former DISY deputy, is seen as a possible candidate for AKEL to back. DIKO tried and failed to get Markides to run against Clerides as a "unifying" candidate in 1998. With Clerides not seeking re-election, Markides could yet be tempted to run in 2003. "I think Markides is a possible for AKEL to back - although he was of DISY he is now well-respected all round," Sofroniou said.

    Markides could also be a popular choice for DISY.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides is another possible candidate, again despite being a DISY man. "Cassoulides is not so very right-wing and is a popular man," Sofroniou said.

    KISOS lost ground and a House seat on Sunday, but remain a useful potential ally for presidential elections partnerships. The four smaller parties that made it into parliament - New Horizons, the Green party, the United Democrats and ADIK - will also feel they can play their part. As the 1998 elections demonstrated, a few thousand votes can go a long way when a Presidential election goes to a second round.

    Horse trading for the 2003 elections was expected to begin in earnest as soon as the parliamentary elections results were known. The first test for fledgling party alliances will be the upcoming vote for House president.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Sigma and ANT1 accused of election law breach for screening polls

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE ATTORNEY-general is dealing with claims of a breach of election law, after Sigma and Antenna broadcast opinion polls before voting had come to an end on Sunday - violating the ban on all election advertising from midnight on Friday to the close of polling on Sunday.

    The polls were broadcast at 5pm, the original deadline for voting to stop, but polling was extended for an extra 40 minutes in Limassol - finally coming to an end at 5.40pm.

    Neither spokesmen from Sigma or Antenna were aware of the pending investigation yesterday afternoon, but both insisted the polls had not been exit polls - explicitly forbidden by election law until all voting has come to a close.

    Antenna press spokesman Maria Papaloizou told the Cyprus Mail that the poll was a collection of the results from polls carried out in March, April and May.

    Sigma likewise said its poll was not an exit poll, but an election forecast carried out on their behalf by Cyprus College.

    But a source, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Cyprus Mail that the Sigma poll did include statistics gathered from various polling stations in Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos that afternoon, as well as figures from old polls.

    Chief returning officer Kyriacos Triantafyllides said no complaints had been made to his office, but that he had referred to the matter to the Attorney-general as soon as he became aware that the polls had been broadcast while polling stations were still open.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that he was waiting to see a report on the polls this morning before deciding whether to take further action.

    Antenna and Sigma cornered the most viewers with their election coverage, with 25.6 per cent and 21 per cent of the total viewing figures respectively.

    Two in three Cypriots tuned into the election coverage on Sunday - a total of 367,500 viewers across the four channels showing election programmes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Celebration for some despair for others

    By Melina Demetriou A MARATHON election vigil, which started on Sunday evening, kept thousands of party members, candidates, supporters, civil servants, reporters and cameramen in action for more than 24 hours.

    Around 10,000 policemen and civil servants were on duty on Sunday at 1,131 polling stations in the Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Famagusta districts, where about 450,000 people cast their vote to elect the new Parliament.

    There was a record 86 women among the 454 candidates contesting the 56 seats.

    Polling stations opened at 7am on Sunday, closed at midday, re-opened at 1pm and finally shut down at 5 pm, with the exception of a few stations, which were given a half hour extension.

    Over 1,000 voters waited until the last minute on Sunday to issue new voting cards because they had lost their old ones.

    Meanwhile over 2,000 civil servants, party officials and members of the press worked overtime at the International Conference Centre in Nicosia, where the district's vote count started at 6pm on Sunday and was still not finished by yesterday afternoon.

    Votes for other districts were taken to regional centres.

    The day's developments were given blanket coverage on almost all local television and radio stations. A rolling results service operated on the Press and Information Office (PIO) office website, at www.pio.gov.cy.

    As tension mounted by the hour, more and more candidates and party supporters arrived at the capital's district centre to hear the results from the horse's mouth.

    National results were updated every 20 minutes and by midnight they mirrored the final results.

    With more than 30 per cent of the vote counted by 12pm all eight parties, including three newcomers, looked set to gain representation in the new 56- seat House of Representatives.

    And all parties, with the exception of KISOS, were either celebrating or at least relieved.

    DISY had 20 seats in the last parliament and AKEL 19, a balance that was simply exchanged in Sunday's vote, with AKEL getting 20 seats and DISY 19.

    Midnight results gave DIKO around 15 per cent of the vote and the Social Democrats 6.5 per cent.

    Results also indicated that the Greens, New Horizons and ADIK would make their debut in Parliament securing more than 1.8 of the vote, the threshold for entry into the House.

    But news was not as bad as feared for the United Democrats. Results showed the party, which according some polls had predicted would be out of parliament, would retain one of its two seats.

    In a jubilant street celebration in the capital, AKEL claimed victory at midnight, before half the votes had even been counted.

    DISY congratulated its rivals, even though just over one percentage point separated them at the time.

    AKEL and New Horizons were the only two of the eight parties running who substantially increased their lead compared to the parliamentary vote of 1996.

    Outside the party's head offices, thousands of AKEL supporters of all ages celebrated the victory of their party, the first tiem in 20 years they had claimed the top spot. Ecstatic young supporters dressed in red t-shirts jumped up and down chanting "For now and forever AKEL, AKEL, AKEL," waved red party flags and lit small fires.

    Some waved Che Guevara flags. One supporter tolled a big bell rapped in a red flag mounted on the rear of a double cabin truck. A man in his seventies chanted with the youngsters. The celebrations caused traffic congestion in the city centre, clogging Makarios Avenue, sounding car horns and waving party flags until about 9 am.

    "We expect to win this contest, the increase in our share of the vote lays a larger responsibility on our shoulders and we shall continue to work consistently to see our promises carried through," a joyous but still cautious Demetris Christofias, AKEL secretary general, told his supporters outside head office.

    Christofias, who was interrupted by cheering supporters as he spoke, said AKEL would strive to achieve a political settlement on the basis of UN resolutions providing for a bicommunal, bizonal federation and to halt the conservative policies of the ruling party.

    Asked to describe her feelings after her son's electoral triumph, Christofias' mother Annou, in her eighties, replied: I don't make exceptions. I care and love all people."

    But there were also celebrations at DISY's offices also in the capital. Addressing his cheering supporters, DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades said the outcome was "a denial of the opinion polls and a confirmation of the party's decisive role in the political arena."

    Opinion polls had given AKEL a much wider lead than emerged on the day.

    Tassos Papadopoulos, leader of centre-right DIKO, also addressed a cheering crowd outside the party's Nicosia offices, saying he was pleased the party had achieved two of its objectives, to rally supporters and to garner enough votes to play a pivotal role in the new House. DIKO had gained some 15 per cent of the vote compared to 16.4 in 1996.

    The big loser was KISOS, which had garnered about 6 per cent of the vote by midnight compared to 8.13 per cent in 1996. The party's leader Vassos Lyssarides blamed KISOS's losses to a polarisation of the vote between the two big parties.

    United Democrats leader George Vassiliou was relieved that his party would make it into Parliament, but disappointed to take only one seat.

    The Greens, New Horizons and ADIK, all expressed their satisfaction at the results, which gave them a seat each.

    Meanwhile, in a frenzied atmosphere at the Conference Centre, unofficial results were out by 1am suggesting which candidates had more chances to make it into Parliament as results of preference votes began to filter through.

    Stressed out party members and candidates started gathering information, making calculations and calling up their head offices.

    Most of the candidates who looked unlikely to be elected put on brave faces, but some were unable to hide their feelings, remaining speechless or leaving the Centre. Others were already celebrating and some still hoping.

    But the KISOS members were the most despondent.

    "We are really pitiful. I feel really awful," one member of the Social Democratic party told the Cyprus Mail.

    Costas Constantinou of DISY and George Hadjigeorgiou of AKEL, both Paphos hopefuls, were declared the first elected deputies by Returning Officer Andreas Christodoulides at about 3am.

    But although the final percentages secured by each party had been due out by 2am and results of voter's candidate preferences by around 8am, the vote counting procedure took much longer because of a series of technical glitches.

    General results were not out till early yesterday afternoon and preference votes were still being counted into the afternoon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Provisional list of deputies elected to the House of Representatives

    By a Staff Reporter

    Provisional list of deputies elected to the House of Representatives. Some deputies had still not been announced by midnight, as second allocations of preference votes had not been completed in all districts. Deputies marked with an asterisk were not members of the last House.

    NICOSIA

    AKEL

    Nicos Katsourides

    George Lillikas

    Aristofanis Georgiou

    Andros Kyprianou*

    Takis Hadjigeorgiou

    Kyriacos Tyrimou

    Eleni Mavrou*

    DISY

    Prodromos Prodromou

    Panayiotis Demetriou

    Demetris Syllouris

    Nicos Tornaritis*

    Andreas Papapolyviou*

    Ionas Nicolaou*

    Maria Kyriacou*

    DIKO

    Tassos Papadopoulos

    Markos Kyprianou

    Antigoni Papadopoulou*

    KISOS

    Vassos Lyssarides

    UD

    Androulla Vassiliou

    GREENS

    George Perdikis*

    New Horizons

    Christos Clerides*

    PAPHOS

    AKEL

    George Hadjigeorgiou

    DISY

    Costas Constantinou

    DIKO

    Nicos Pittokopitis

    KISOS

    Yiannakis Omirou

    FAMAGUSTA

    AKEL

    Kikis Yiangou

    Stavros Evagorou*

    Christos Mavrokordatos

    Costas Papacostas

    DISY

    Antonis Karas

    Lefteris Christoforou

    Sotiris Sampson*

    George Georgiou*

    DIKO

    Zacharias Koulias

    LARNACA

    AKEL

    Doros Christodoulides

    Thasos Michaelides

    DISY

    George Tassou

    Zacharias Zachariou*

    DIKO

    Nicos Cleanthous

    LIMASSOL

    AKEL

    Andreas Christou

    Yiannis Lamaris*

    Agis Agapiou*

    Yiannakis Thoma

    DISY

    Nicos Anastassiades

    Christos Pourgourides

    Rikkos Erotocritou

    DIKO

    Marios Matsakis

    ADIK

    Dinos Michaelides*

    KISOS

    Doros Theodorou

    KYRENIA

    AKEL

    Demetris Christofias

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Greece sees new parliament pursuing EU entry

    By a Staff Reporter

    GREECE said yesterday it was confident that the new Cypriot parliament led by the Communist party AKEL would continue the island's drive for membership of the European Union.

    "We are certain the new parliament in Cyprus will continue... to help the country's common effort, which is the entry into the European Union," Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis told reporters.

    AKEL emerged as the largest party in Sunday's election with 34.7 per cent, ahead of the right-wing Democratic Rally (DISY) with 34 per cent. Both AKEL and DISY want Cyprus to join the EU.

    A key task of the new 56-seat parliament in Nicosia in the coming months will be to pass substantial legislation that will need ratification as Cyprus concludes its accession negotiations with the EU.

    Greece has repeatedly said that Cyprus's entry to the EU must not depend on a resolution of the division of the island.

    It has threatened to block all EU enlargement if Cyprus is excluded because of the division.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Denktash: results show Greek Cypriots don't want solution

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday the results of Sunday's parliamentary election in the free areas showed Greek Cypriots did not want to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    The Communist party AKEL won Sunday's election with 34.71 per cent of the vote. AKEL is seen as pro-European as well as moderate in its stance on how to resolve the division of the island.

    But Denktash noted that those elected to parliament included Sotiris Sampson, the son of former coup president and militia leader Nicos Sampson, who died earlier this month.

    Sampson, a member of the EOKA guerrilla movement against British colonial rule, played a prominent role in the intercommunal fighting of the 1960s and led a brief Greek-inspired coup, which provoked the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    "AKEL saying that the solution to the Cyprus problem lies in Kyrenia and the fact that EOKA leader Sampson's son was elected as a deputy are proof that the Greek Cypriots have no intention of finding a solution," Denktash said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Greek government postpones Olympic decision

    By Jean Christou

    THE GREEK government has postponed its decision on who will take over ailing national carrier Olympic Airways for another three weeks.

    The decision had been due yesterday, with Cyprus Airways seen as the front- runner out of three groups bidding for Olympic.

    Newspapers in Greece, as well as London's Financial Times yesterday cited a series of difficulties with the applications of all three bidders.

    The FT said that CY's offer had failed to comply with sale terms set by the Greek government. Reports last week said that the national carrier had not paid the 1.8 million deposit to secure its bid, an allegation the airline refused to comment on.

    Moreover, CY has only offered to buy a minority stake in Olympic, while the Greek government wants to sell a majority shareholding of at least 60 per cent.

    The FT said negotiations would continue with the aim of securing improved bids from CY and the two Greek enterprises that submitted firm offers.

    Plans submitted by the Greek bidders -- Axon Airlines, a small Greek carrier controlled by the Liacounakos group, and the Restis shipping group - - were considered "too vague", one official told the newspaper.

    Bidders were also required to make a cash offer of at least $80 million that would serve as a capital injection for Olympic, and had to specify how many of airline's 7,500 staff they would retain.

    The Greek government has already pledged to transfer 1,500 Olympic employees to other public sector enterprises and offer redundancy packages for another 2,000.

    But the bidders complained they were unable to carry out a proper examination of Olympic's financial standing because the airline had not yet produced a balance sheet detailing last year's losses.

    Olympic has only once made a profit in the past two decades, is saddled with debts of more than 40 billion drachmas (approximately 66.7 million). According to preliminary estimates, operating losses in 2000 reached around 70 million.

    The airline is in such a bad state that experts say it faces the possibility of financial collapse within three months, following a decline in ticket sales and additional expenses incurred at the new Athens international airport at Spata, which opened in April. Operating expenses are expected to increase this year because of higher landing fees and other charges.

    "The crunch will come in September at the end of the tourist season. Cash flow will simply dry up," one official told the FT. Olympic is no longer eligible for state subsidies after being allowed to write off earlier accumulated debts under an earlier EU-approved restructuring.

    The airline's fleet will also be reduced by one-third in the coming months, with 11 Boeing 737-200s due to be phased out in line with EU regulations on aircraft noise. A fleet renewal plan was scrapped last year after British Airways decided against buying a 20 per cent stake in Olympic.

    CY submitted its bid for the airline only after weeks of discussion among board members and only announced its decision to go ahead with the offer near to the 5pm deadline on May 14.

    Strong concerns have been expressed on the CY board at the state of Olympic and the lack of detail on the airline's financial status.

    The board eventually agreed to make the bid, but only under certain conditions, which referred to "guarantees, facilities and obligations" which the airline judged necessary to safeguard its own interests and the viability of the new Olympic Airways.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Eurocypria pilots 'satisfied' with new proposal

    By Jean Christou

    EUROCYPRIA pilots have been given a new proposal by the government in a bid to avert strike action planned in the charter firm this week.

    The pilots' union will hold a general assembly this morning to vote for the proposal put forward by Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou.

    Last Thursday night, Neophytou was in the middle of last-ditch efforts to avert a strike by Eurocypria pilots when he was had to rush to hospital to see his brother, who had suffered a heart attack.

    Out of respect, the pilots called off their action, planned for midnight the same night, but warned trouble could flare up again this week.

    After a marathon session at Neophytou's ministry yesterday, the pilots were given a proposal that they were satsified with, sources said, but it must be approved by the assembly today. The details have not been revealed.

    Last week, Neophytou had asked the pilots call off their strike and postpone an earlier agreement made with Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas, but they rejected the Minister's suggestion.

    The pilots are protesting because CY has not yet begun to implement the Moushiouttas agreement to promote two co-pilots to captain in the charter firm.

    CY is afraid to cross its own pilots in PASIPY, who have long laid claim to Eurocypria promotions under a demand for common seniority. A strike by PASIPY would do far more damage than a strike by the smaller charter firm. CY has made conflicting agreements with both unions in an attempt to keep the peace and prevent industrial action by either one

    It is believed, however, that the new Neophytou agreement will go back on the promotion of the two pilots but lead to a better long-term deal for Eurocypria pilots.

    Neophytou hit out at the strikers last week, saying he had had enough of disruption in the national carrier and threatened to rush in liberalisation in order to give "others" the chance to do a job he implied CY and Eurocypria were incapable of.

    "The CY pilots are threatening that if Eurocypria pilots' problems are solved then they will go on strike. If Eurocypria's problems are not solved, their pilots will go on strike," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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