The parliamentary elections are upon us. The options for socially progressive people of both the left the and right are limited. They face a dilemma: get rid of the ruling party or prevent ELAM becoming the fourth party. Let’s look at the various options before I argue why I’m not persuaded by this dilemma.

Many consider that the track record of the ruling party renders them an unattractive option, particularly for their handling of the Cyprus problem, the perceived authoritarianism with which they are managing the pandemic, and notably the various corruption scandals, not least the one revealed by Al Jazeera. The conservative parties occupying the so-called in-between space are also not an option as they do not align with a progressive political outlook. Needless to say that parties of the extreme far-right are also unattractive alternatives. Other small parties may be appealing as an expression of discontent, but given that they will not pass the electoral threshold, they are, tactically speaking, a wasted vote.

This leaves two parties to chose from: the communist (but really social democratic) AKEL, and the Greens. AKEL is still plagued by their bad tenure in office (2008-2013) and has been affected by the recent Al Jazeera documentary on the golden passports, which featured a party MP. The Greens, which had the chance to really become a main player and capitalise on the prevailing discontent towards the two mainstream parties, are criticised for their selection of candidates, which range from socially progressive, pro-solution public figures, to anti-federalists who propagate conspiracy theories. Not to mention that the party does not have a clear pro-solution stance.

The dilemma between AKEL and the Greens seemingly boils down to personal priorities. If one prioritises the need to weaken the ruling party, then AKEL is the obvious choice. If one, on the other hand, really does not want to see ELAM becoming the fourth largest party, then Greens is the way to go.

I don’t think that the decision to vote for a party irrespective of ideological convergence just to halt the rise of ELAM is correct. The previous time this dilemma determined political preferences was during the 2019 parliamentary elections. At the time the dilemma was to vote for EDEK so that ELAM does not get elected into the European Parliament. This is very similar to the current dilemma of voting for the Greens so that ELAM does not become the fourth largest parliamentary party. It worked well in 2019 as a fairly decent guy, Demetris Papadakis, was elected as MEP. But, it could just have gone the other way. The vote for EDEK could have elected Papadakis’ conservative party opponent into office, who got a mere 1,034 votes less than Papadakis’ 11,789. Essentially, the decision to vote for a party just so that ELAM does not get into office, would result in a far-right candidate getting the position using many progressive people’s votes. Would that really count as a success?

I’m not one principally opposed to tactical voting, which is when one supports someone other than their preferred candidate just to “prevent an undesirable outcome”. But there must be clarity as to what exactly is the undesirable outcome, as well as a balancing between the merits of the tactical selection vis-a-vis the voter’s preferred option. It’s not just a matter of preventing the undesirable outcome.

Personally, my political instinct and conscience are most satisfied when I am able to support people with whom I agree. Tactical voting is not something I would consider lightly and would certainly keep me awake at night. It would also make me angry later on upon witnessing how those who get more powerful due to tactical votes use their newly-found position of authority to promote policies I disagree with, yet pursued “in my name”.