Big Two in House leadership battle

By Melina Demetriou

AKEL and DISY yesterday said they would back their leaders, Demetris Christofias and Nicos Anastassiades respectively, for the House presidency, signalling the start of another political battle between the left and right.

Three days after the parliamentary elections on Sunday in which AKEL won 20 seats and DISY 19, the big two said yesterday they will square up again next Thursday, June 7.

Anastassiades and Christofias are now the main contenders for the coveted presidency of the parliamentary body, as it is unlikely that either DIKO with seven MPs or KISOS, with only four, will try getting one of their own elected as House President.

Announcing Christofias’ candidacy yesterday, AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides warned his party’s rivals that “AKEL will fight to the death”.

Katsourides said the party would try to reach agreement with one or more of the other parties, excluding DISY, to secure Christofias’ victory.

He said there would be no strings attached to the deal, in a reference to the presidential elections which take place in less than two years’ time.

But centre DIKO is expected to play a pivotal role in the elections for the House presidency, as well in as the presidential elections. DIKO would probably favour an alliance with AKEL rather than with DISY, but it would first want AKEL to agree to back DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos for President of the Republic in 2003, something AKEL is apparently loath to do.

Announcing his party’s decision to back Anastassiades for House President, DISY spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos also said DISY would try to make a deal with some of the other parties — with the exception of AKEL.

The next week is expected to be filled with endless wheeling and dealing as the two major parliamentary parties jostle for position ahead of the plenum vote. The arrival of three new parliamentary parties — ADIK, New Horizons and the Greens — should add a new element to the mix.