Following Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos’ resignation and replacement with Petrides, speculation is rising that a Cabinet reshuffle is ahead of the 2018 presidential elections. Mr. Hasikos stepped down for personal reasons, and his resignation could be seen as an opportunity to strengthen the administration’s position.
A strong showing is important for the presidency at this point. It’s been a long four years. Corruption scandals were exposed. The health system is still broken and apparently the House of Representatives is ignoring the reform plan for universal insurance that’s been tabled. The economy crashed in 2013 and is struggling to climb back up the mountain. Reunification talks made some initial progress against all the odds, but final results haven’t appeared.
The opposition still doesn’t have much of a case. The lack of economic know-how is still a big problem for the left. The political landscape is splintered with a number of tiny parties. The lunatic fringe is there in the form of ELAM, which has a high disapproval rate.
DIKO was always a swing vote party, so has to make an alliance with a bigger party or several smaller ones. This could prove difficult given the splintered scene and the fundamental disagreement between DISY and DIKO over how to manage the Cyprus Problem.
Bottom line, voters want to know that they can trust the economy will keep moving forward and that jobs will increase. This is paramount after the crash.Even though the economy is improving, the job market is still soft. Cash flow and investment are not smooth. In addition, the House of Representatives shouldn’t believe that the voters are overlooking the fact that they are ignoring the pending universal health care bill. There’s a lot of disappointment at the House’s failure to act in the best interests of the public health. That will certainly be reflected in the next legislative elections if not in the presidential ones.
Overall, the administration’s efforts to reduce corruption are appreciated. The attempts to modernise and reform the economy are noted – as is the trade union and left-wing’s resistance to rationalising public entities. The Auditor-General’s office has been strengthened, so there’s real oversight on public spending and protecting the public interest. The Cyprus Problem remains unsolved but that’s status quo. If President Anastasiades wants to win a second term, he has to inspire voters with hope for the future. That means jobs, renewed optimism to solve our major political problem, and focusing on his strengths; he brought the country back from the brink of complete financial and economic destruction.
His main rival, Nikolas Papadopoulos has his strengths also; in particular his economic and political know-how. He steadily united his party after the disastrous alliance with AKEL lost votes and sympathy during the period of 2008-2012. But it may be that he is out of touch with how voters feel about the Cyprus Problem and nationalism – they don’t carry as much campaign weight as they used to. Since there hasn’t been a reunification referendum, DIKO hasn’t had the chance to campaign heavily against it. That means the party and leader will have to find other causes to reach the voters.
In this writer’s opinion, whoever wins the presidential election must take responsibility and be proactive to keep the economy out of party politics and push to fix the public health system. A balance between the public and private sectors is urgently needed. Voters are not stupid, they are watching and waiting for the right leadership to captain the country in uncertain times.