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Elections at DIKO: change of leadership, change of direction?

Nicolas Papadopoulos, the newly elected president of DIKO, is the son of the former president of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and is largely expected to follow the political path of his late father.

Nicolas has more robust preferences when it comes to the Cyprus problem, whereas the former president of DIKO, Marios Garoyian, was more flexible; something that can be verified by his alliances with both leftist AKEL and right wing DISY at the last two presidential elections.

Nicolas was not happy with the decision of his party to support the candidacy of president Anastasiades. In fact, he resigned from his position as vice-president of DIKO during the election campaign and repeatedly expressed his disapproval of the way DISY handled the Cyprus problem in the past. Most notably, Nicolas is known for his NO vote to the Annan Plan, which contradicts the official line of ruling-party DISY that supported the YES vote.

Prior to the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting, the political agenda of both the parties and the government was monopolised by the Cyprus problem. Now, after March 2013, the issues on the agenda are two: the financial situation and the Cyprus problem. Although it would be unwise to classify the two subjects hierarchically, they do fit comfortably on a time-line and they have a temporal dimension. The Cyprus problem is a long-term ‘problem’ for president Anastasiades, whereas the parliamentary support for the financial restructuring is more urgent.

A possible trade-off between the two is a realistic possibility. Anastasiades and Papadopoulos are not in full agreement when it comes to the handling of the economy and are in definite disagreement when it comes to the Cyprus problem. What Anastasiades and Papadopoulos have to figure out now, is a win-win situation that will benefit both. Thus, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see Anastasiades harden his position on the Cyprus problem in order to get the support of Papadopoulos on the economy, especially given that Anastasiades is under pressure to meet the demands of the troika.

Nicolas Papadopoulos currently has a lot of leverage. The government cannot pass any bill on the economy without the support of DIKO. Therefore, Anastasiades needs to find a way to keep DIKO satisfied and within his coalition government.

Considering that the two most serious issues on the political agenda is the economy and the Cyprus problem, Nicos Anastasiades needs to make certain concessions in order to accommodate the new president of DIKO. Given the urgent nature of the parliamentary bills on the economy, the Cyprus problem will probably fall back on the agenda and it is more likely that president Anastasiades will adopt a more uncompromising stance when it comes to the negotiations.

In a distant scenario Nicolas Papadopoulos might even leave the coalition government but this is highly unlike considering the opportunistic nature of DIKO, which tends to be always in government, challenging the policies of the ruling party whilst being in a coalition with them.

Another rather distant scenario is that Anastasiades and Papadopoulos will reach an agreement on both the Cyprus problem and on the economy. This scenario will gain more traction if the troika uses the solution of the Cyprus problem as part of its conditionality for the next instalment.

There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment. The relationship of Anastasiades and Papadopoulos will definitely have an impact on the Cyprus problem – what kind of impact is left to be seen.

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