A live televised debate was held yesterday in the Republic of Cyprus with the three top presidential candidates: Nicos Anastasiades representing the right-wing Democratic Rally Party (DISY), and also backed by DIKO Democratic Party; Giorgos Lillikas of the Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK); and Stavros Malas of the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) – the current ruling party. This was the second of three scheduled presidential debates.
The topic of the debate was the Cyprus problem, with particular reference to the Annan Plan for the re-unification of Cyprus, which proposed a united federation of two states, a Greek Cypriot state and a Turkish-Cypriot state, with a central federal government. However, the discussions focused mainly on how the candidates and their parties had supported or rejected the plan over the years, rather than next steps. Anastasiades’ party DISY had supported the Annan Plan although DIKO had rejected it. It was noted that AKEL initially supported the Annan Plan but then opted for a negative response in the referrendum, and Malas stated that he would not accept that solution under any circumstances today. Lillikas had not supported the Plan and referred to it as “catastrophic”. There was very little discussion about any new approach.
Comments from Greek-Cypriot citizens, following the debate, suggest a frustration at the lack of passion for a resolution and a feeling that the debate was simply a political slanging match, as well as the feeling that the state of their economy should take the highest priority.
Nicos Anastasiades is currently leading the opinion polls with 38%, followed by Stavros Malas with 24%, and then Giorgos Lillikas with 20%.
The presidential elections will be held on 17th February, with a possible second round on 24th February if there is no clear winner (the winning candidate must gain at least 50% of the votes).