Can EU Citizens Eligible To Vote Understand the Issues?
In a political system that has become intensely polarised around the ethnic Greek and Turkish languages, this sizeable and growing chunk of voters appears to have escaped the calculations of local political parties. Websites for campaigners are in Greek, all the advertisements are in Greek and all the debates are in Greek. That's obviously no bad thing, in fact, if you speak Greek that's the best solution as it is a venerable language worthy of learning. But let's say you don't speak this rather difficult language which can take years to learn, but want to participate and contribute to your municipality. What are your options?
You can read the English-language press which is by and large a good idea and will keep you informed. You can run for election, which would wake up the establishment and make it realise that there are groups other than the Greek and Turkish population to pay attention to and include in the nation's decision-making process. Politically-minded citizens can make the effort to meet up with establishment politicians and lobby for their municipality's needs.
What you can't do is go to the Interior Ministry's municipal elections website, click the English version and read all about it. Because the English version is in Greek! Nil points for trying, I would have said on that.
And what can politicians do to open up channels of communication with Cyprus' EU citizens? They can start arranging to meet up with communities of EU citizens, like the British community in Paphos, or the British-Cypriot community.
Bottom line, Cyprus has a unique history which politicians can either choose to take advantage of or feel resentment about. The British colonised Cyprus and set up some systems that remain in place and influence our society. Why not take advantage of this by opening up channels of communication to the large British community in Cyprus? It has worked for the tourism industry, British tourists bring hundreds of millions of euros into the economy every year.
The same goes for the 60-thousand-strong Russian community, for example, many of them are naturalised citizens now. Who knows what talents and contributions can be made by these communities? Unless the political establishment opens up to the opportunities these people may represent, we'll never know.
Meanwhile, just to let you into an insight into the latest campaigning by communist party AKEL and conservative party DISY, guess what? AKEL is slinging mud at DISY for not supporting its candidate in Limassol, apparently under the impression that the opposition should do as it's told. AKEL secretary-general Andros Kyprianou also insulted Nicosia mayor candidate Constandinos Georgatzis' long-dead father, who was a freedom fighter in the 1950's, a move that was not very popular with the conservative wing and came off sounding like a very cheap shot indeed.
And while they bicker, economic pressures are bearing down harder and harder, but who are we to spoil the party?
Still want to be involved? Well, what can we say? As the Greek saying goes, to each his own pain!