The second round of elections in Cyprus was held on Sunday February 24th. In this round the candidate of the center-right DHSY party, Nicos Anastiades defeated independent candidate Satvros Malas.
About 80% of those eligible to vote cast ballots in the election. Although such a turnout would be very good by US standards in Cyprus, where Presidential election typically draw over 90% of the voters, it was rather low. This is an indication that many supporters of the third place finisher, Giorgios Lillikas, who was eliminated in the election’s first round, simply gave up and did not come out in the numbers needed to support Malas in the second round.
This election is of particular significance because it took place in the context of the world crisis of capital. The crisis has hit Cyprus hard due to the close connections of the nation’s banks to the Greek economy and has forced the country to turn to the European Union for a bailout. In return for bailout the so-called “Troika”- the IMF, the European central bank and the European Commission money are demanding that Cyprus bow to its demands.
While Malas could have been expected to resist any demands that would undermine the independence of the nation and the welfare of its working people there is no such expectation for an Anastiades Presidency. In fact, Anastiades, a close associate of Germany’s Angela Merkel, has already hinted that he will not only accede to the demands of the Troika but will orchestrate even deeper attacks on the social welfare of Cypriots. In the future the people of Cyprus will have to vigilantly defend the gains of the past against attempts by pro austerity forces in the EU and in Cyprus itself.
In terms of international relations there is also evidence of future problems. Within a few days of the election and in a seeming affront to the independence and dignity of Cyprus, the newly elected President and DHSY party leader offered up Cyprus to NATO’s misnamed “Partnership for Peace” program. Anastasiades took this action unilaterally and did not even bother to consult with the multi-party National Council.
The ostensible reason for NATO’s existence, the putative threat to Europe posed by the Soviet Union, has long ceased to exist; yet NATO not only still exists but also is expanding. Progressive people all over the world had long pointed out that the real reason for NATO was to act as an agent of imperialist aggression. Now, so many years after the end of the Soviet Union this should be clear to everyone. Pointing out that the so called, “Partnership for Peace” is nothing but a NATO front, Official AKEL spokesperson Georgios Loucaides remarked that:”NATO is responsible for unjust wars, juntas, dictatorships, death and bloodshed all over the world,”
In fact, as was pointed out by Loucaides, Cypriots hold NATO responsible for the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by NATO member Turkey. The immediate result was the displacement of some 200,000 Cypriots and the disappearance of thousands of others. The consequent occupation of about 1/3 of Cyprus by Turkey continues until this day.
In any event the recent electoral results in Cyprus seem to be in keeping with the tendency, in the face of the crisis of capital, for voters to try an alternative to the governments in power, perhaps in the hope that a different government will be better able to address the crisis.
The crisis, however, is one of capital and the austerity remedies that have been imposed in the interests of a narrow sector of finance capital have made the situation worse wherever they have been applied. Any alternative policy, while perhaps producing different results can’t ultimately solve the problem as long as the remedy proposed remains within the confines of the capitalist system.
Map: Cyprus is an island country located in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean Sea. (CC)