Fragile structure of AKEL-DIKO coalition crumbles
NOTHING IS as it was any longer in the relationship between AKEL and DIKO after the results in DIKO's leadership elections. The crushing superiority achieved by the “Tassists” in all the party's collective instruments annuls the policy of equilibrium followed so far by DIKO chairman Marios Garoyian.
The party is now placing itself clearly in opposition to President Christofias on the Cyprus issue. At a debate held on Mega TV last Wednesday, Nicolas Papadopoulos contradicted AKEL press officer Stavros Evagorou on every point. Papadopoulos criticised Christofias for burying the agreement of July 8, 2006, for exculpating Turkey, for rushing into negotiations without first clarifying the basis for them, for making concessions without securing any returns, and for driving the Greek Cypriot cause in the Cyprus issue to disaster.
These opinions are not news, coming from Nicolas Papadopoulos. Christofias had, in the past, not paid attention to them, referring instead to the stated positions of DIKO's leadership. After the DIKO leadership elections these opinions are, officially, those of the party
Next target: Garoyian
DIKO chairman Marios Garoyian now feels the noose tightening, and has since the day after the elections declared his faith in the “Tassist” line. However, according to reliable sources, the Papadopouloses no longer trust him and accuse him of not saying the same things to Christofias as he says to them.
The Papadopoulos family's opinion of Marios Garoyian was clearly recorded by George Eliades in Simerini newspaper: “The leading position achieved by Anastassia Papadopoulou (in the elections) confirms that the people of DIKO do not accept hermaphrodite politics. They want a clear political line and clear positions. The people also want to be informed regularly. The people are confused as to what policy the chairman of DIKO is following”.
According to the same sources, the next goal after the consolidation of the dominance of the Papadopouloses within DIKO is to force Garoyian to resign and replace him with vice chairman Giorgios Kolokassides. Though Kolokassides does not belong to the group of “Tassists” and does not co-ordinate with them, they consider that Kolokassides can politically express the “Tassists” without alienating the “Kyprianists”.
“Let them throw us out”
The tactics to be followed by the new DIKO leadership are not aimed at withdrawing from the governing coalition, but on raising the level of criticism to a peak, and in undermining the talks from the inside. If a matter of withdrawal is to be raised, they want the initiative to come from AKEL so that they can leave the coalition as the “persecuted” ones. “This is a pseudo-dilemma”, Nicolas Papadopoulos said, in answer to a question on whether DIKO would leave the coalition. He referred to the presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos, when AKEL remained in the coalition despite the serious differences of opinion.
DIKO is now expected to constantly try to corner Christofias. They have already once again raised the issue of having a ‘party man’ on the negotiating team. Garoyian has for a long time been putting forward the name of the General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nicos Emiliou, but Christofias rejected the proposal. Now DIKO has once again asked to be represented in a position at the same level as that held by Tassos Tzionis in the previous administration, a demand which Christofias finds impossible to meet.
DIKO is finished
Though all the coalitions DIKO has taken part in with AKEL in the last 30 years have been stormy, the leftist party has traditionally stuck to them because of the “DISY Danger”. AKEL has defined right-wing DISY to be its main ideological and political opponent ever since the latter party was founded. A major axis of AKEL policy has always been “to bar the accession of DISY to power”. This one-track policy raised the status of DIKO and, to a lesser extent, that of socialist EDEK, to the level of arbiters of political equililbrium. Until today, Christofias held on to the coalition with DIKO with grim determination for two fundamental reasons:
- He had been reassured by Garoyian that if and when Christofias could arrive at a negotiated solution with Mehmet Ali Talat, Garoyian could direct DIKO's resolutions on the issue and would be able to get the party to support the solution.
- If the negotiations on the Cyprus issue founder, Christofias could count on a continued alliance with DIKO, with a view to another term as President.
These two pillars on which AKEL founded its continued co-operation with DIKO no longer exist. DIKO is no longer controlled by Garoyian, but by the “Tassist” tendency. Garoyian, if he survives the shake-up, will completely adapt to the new situation. As George Eliades, who is closely related by bonds of family and friendship with the Papadopouloses, has made clear to Garoyian: “The people of DIKO want Mr. Garoyian to clearly separate his position from Mr. Christofias' politics”.
Chasm and hatred
In order to keep the bridges to DIKO up, Christofias will have to reconcile himself with the Papadopouloses. This is considered to be impossible:
An impenetrable psychological barrier has arisen between the two. The Papadopoulos family considers that Tassos Papadopoulos' death was directly related to his disappointment at being “betrayed” by AKEL.
They also consider Christofias “an ingrate” because although they forced Garoyian to reverse his decision to support Kassoulides in the second round of the presidential elections, Christofias later allied himself with Garoyian in an attempt to constrain the “Tassists” within DIKO.
AKEL attributes the pressure it is already finding itself under to personal bitterness on the part of the Papadopouloses. According to the party's press secretary, Stavros Evagorou on Mega, the Papadopoulos family are motivated by their vengeful feelings against Christofias “because Christofias was elected President”.
In the Cyprus issue, the two sides are separated by a yawning chasm which can't be bridged with mere verbal approaches. Even if Christofias wishes to follow the Papadopoulos line on the Cyprus issue, it is politically impossible for him to do so, without being humiliated locally and exposed internationally.
Given that the Papadopouloses will be controlling DIKO for the next four years, and that they have already began to try to get their own back, it follows that the days of the AKEL-DIKO coalition are numbered. In both scenarios for the Cyprus issue – in the case of either solution or impasse – they will come to the parting of the ways:
- * Solution: Today's DIKO cannot accept a solution on the basis of the current negotiations. In case the negotiations arrive at an agreement, DIKO will align itself with the Church, will speak of a national sellout, and will fight the agreement to the end.
- * Impasse: DIKO will in no case wish to share the responsibility for the consequences of an impasse and will want to lay all the blame on Christofias. They will hold forth that all their predictions and objections will have been justified and will seek revenge on Christofias, in alliance with the whole or part of DISY, with or without Anastassiades.
Nicos Anastassiades, the only way out
Now that the fragile structure holding the AKEL-DIKO coalition together has been torn asunder, the only realistic way out for AKEL and President Christofias is a negotiated, comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue which will rejuvenate the political system and will rescue him a new impasse.
The only potential ally left to Christofias is Nicos Anastassiades. Only with the co-operation of DISY, and only given that society will be adequately prepared, can a negotiated solution make it through a referendum. Until now Christofias has avoided Anastassiades and DISY at all costs, while in his attempt to keep the door towards DIKO open, he himself undermined the prospect of the talks, with the result that nine in ten Cypriots do not believe that a solution is even feasible.
After the shakeup at DIKO, Christofias will be forced, ex facto, to rethink his co-operation with Anastassiades, even if only at a personal level. He should make Anastassiades party to his thoughts and concerns, hear his views and together with him draw up a policy to handle the Cyprus issue with the prospect of a solution being attained. Anything less than that will day by day magnify the obstacles faced by Christofias and further contribute to his political isolation.