Unity and left politics tops the poll

Following up my previous entry, Dimitris Christofias (AKEL), has been elected President of Cyprus.

He has already received congratulations from Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat of Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi (Republican Turkish Party) – a left leaning party which has been in negotiations on rapproachement with Christofias’ AKEL for a number of years.

Remembering Connolly’s claim that the Irish working class are the only incorruptible inheritors of the Irish freedom struggle, is the Cypriot left going to teach us a lesson in reunification?

  • Garibaldy

    Guess it depends on what lesson you want to draw. For me, it’s a concentration on working to covince the people of a divided entity that their interests are the same, and that unity is no threat to them, but will improve their way of life. Undermine division by working at ground level with your compatriots rather than directing all the attention at the foreign power that is there with the support of part of the population.

    Others may wish to draw different lessons.

  • Garibaldy

    I think you have made a fair assessment, myself I feel it was a little premature to take Cyprus into the EU before the island was reunited politically. Never the less we are where we are and thankfully both AKEL and the Republican Turkish Party (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi) are keen to get on with the job of uniting the island.

    As to is the current Turkish Government in Ankara, Turkey gains very little from opposing the reunification of Cyprus and looses a great deal, as it adds a stumbling block to their own EU application on which islamophobes can hang their hats.

  • dewi

    Is that the first communist to win a Presidential election in Western Europe?

  • Garibaldy


    I would think so. Although not as significant as it might once have been alas.


    You don’t think that had the Cypriot example of seeking to unite the people through peaceful persuasion had been followed here, both progressive politics and the cause of unification would have been much better served?

  • jacm

    Hope the optimistic voices prove correct but the new president is in power with the support of previous incumbents DISY party and one wonders if there have been any deals made as price for that support.

  • You all seem to forget that AKEL backed the No side in the Annan Plan referendum, admittedly following public opinion at a very late stage rather than leading it. This is no receipe for overnight change. Remember how many overseas headlines trumpeted settlements in Northern Ireland when we knew they were far from being achieved.

    There is still a strong element of public opinion in Southern Cyprus that refuses to countenance any settlement other than a return to the 1973 status quo ante, and AKEL will have a difficult job in persuading public opinion to back a compromise – after all Southern Cyprus is in the EU and the EU and international community have singularly failed to live up to any of the promises made to the Turkish Cypriots after the 2004 referendum.

    By far the best thing about this result is that it breaks the stranglehold and malign influence on Cypriot politics of the Papadapoulos and Denktash families.

  • Garibaldy

    Unity will not be easy. But it is closer now than ever before. I reckon at least a decade, but it is now imaginable. Largely due to hard work on the ground by AKEL in bringing people together, exploring dialogue, and promoting peaceful cooperation. They deserve an enormous amount of praise and credit.

  • Mark McGregor


    You fail to note that AKEL actively supported the Annan plan as the basis for negotiations and called for a delay in the referendum to try and overcome the final obstacles, a request that was rejected.

  • Garibaldy

    I do not feel one can over look the fact that the island was first partitioned due to violence from the Greek side, and in some ways with the eventual failure of the Sampson coup, violence of the EOKA kind was taken out of the Cypriot political equation.

    Whilst I agree the political violence in the north went on far to long and I blame the British governments for that. I am not convinced that without a rocket up their arses the Unionists politicians would have moved beyond their position of almost total intransigence. [I am not meaning to belittle those from the unionist side who lost their lives etc]

    Getting back to Cyprus any agreement about reunification will have to deal with the contentious issue of the British bases on the island, it will be interesting to see how the UK government behaves on this, will they revert to type or agree to go?

  • You fail to note that AKEL actively supported the Annan plan as the basis for negotiations and called for a delay in the referendum to try and overcome the final obstacles, a request that was rejected.

    What, AKEL’s position was the same as the DUP’s? At the end of the negotiations to start whingeing that the deal wasn’t good enough, and they wanted a fair deal? And sat on their arse for most of the referendum campaign before letting themselves be led by the nose of a No campaign wallowing in hatred and racial superiority two days before polling day?

    Don’t get me wrong, Mark, even as a decided non-lefty I happily acknowledge that for many decades AKEL were the only people doing anything serious to promote peace and reconciliation on Cyprus. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Annan Plan referendum campaign was probably the worst episode in their history.

  • Garibaldy


    By 1970 virtually all NICRA’s aims had been acheived, and it was not violence that brought down Stormont but the rent and rate strike.

    I do not for a second dispute that unionist politicians have been all too often bigoted and reactionary. Nevertheless, violence was an impediment to a solution, not the promoter of one.

    The outlines of the settlement were obvious from 1973. However, unionist refuseniks succeeded in wrecking Sunningdale, while people like Brendan Hughes, Adams et al didn;t give a fiddler’s about what people wanted, and were determined to continue until victory. Which they naively thought was close. There was little that anybody could have done to stop them continuing at several points, as they were following their own terms of reference.

    On Cyprus, it will be interesting to see what happens with the bases. AKEL would like to see them go, but I wouldn;t be surprised if they stayed “just in case”, with a UN mandate. I’d be happy enough if the bases were filled with troops from a neutral country as a compromise, and I suspect that would be acceptable to most on the island too.