KISOS political bureau resigns

By Melina Demetriou

THE ENTIRE 15-member KISOS political bureau resigned last night, following the party’s dismal performance in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The unanimous resignations, coming 24 hours after leader Vassos Lyssarides announced his own decision to retire on Tuesday, have flung KISOS into a full-scale crisis.

The party’s Central Committee will now have to elect both a new bureau and a new president in June in order to recoup and try to move forward.

But Lyssarides, under mounting pressure from senior colleagues to leave the socialist party he founded 40 years ago, was last night upbeat about the meeting, which he said had set KISOS on the road to recovery.

Lyssarides said the party’s electoral conference — due to take place in June — should decide the new leader of KISOS, adding that he was pleased with last night’s events.

There was considerable friction in the party yesterday, with at least two senior members openly criticising Lyssarides for not resigning immediately after Sunday’s elections, in which the party earned a mere 6.5 per cent of the vote, compared with 8.1 per cent in 1996.

Louiza Mavrommati, member of the party’s political bureau, which convened yesterday and was still sitting until late last night to address the situation, had earlier suggested that the body’s members should step down.

“It’s about political sensitivity,” she said. “We are all to blame for this catastrophe. I think a new bureau should be elected. The political principles and aims of the party lost their focus when it changed its name from socialist EDEK to Social Democratic KISOS 18 months ago and we failed to put forward concrete ideas during our election campaign,” Mavrommati told the Cyprus Mail.

Asked if she thought the party should change its name back to EDEK, Mavrommati replied: “It’s possible but such a suggestion has not been tabled yet.” She echoed others in saying the party had made a mistake joining a coalition government with right wing DISY in 1998.

“EDEK has always been a socialist party and it was the party which fought against the fascist coup in 1974,” she said.

Party Secretary Dinos Michail and Communications Secretary Pandis Papaloizou were the first to resign over the party’s losses.

Failed KISOS candidates Takis Hadjidemetriou, Elias Myrianthous and Larkos Larkou on Tuesday called on 82-year-old Lyssarides to stand down, saying he bore a large share of responsibility for the party’s poor electoral showing.

But Lyssarides’ statement that he would not seek re-election as the party’s chairman was not enough to ease the tension.

Hadjidemetriou, veteran deputy and a former vice-chairman of KISOS, yesterday insisted the party leader should have resigned immediately after the results were announced.

“The electorate gave us a loud message. If we earned 6.5 per cent of the vote on Sunday it means we have an even smaller percentage now, since many of the votes we got were simply votes of tolerance from people who hoped we’d get the message at last. But it seems that message has not been received by the leadership yet,” Hadjidemetriou said.

Lyssarides also came under fire from deputy Lakatamia Mayor Chrysostomos Pericleous, a member of KISOS’ central committee.

In an announcement issued yesterday, Pericleous blamed Lyssarides for the party losing half of its electoral strength in the space of ten years.

EDEK’s best showing at the polls came in 1970, when it scored 13.4 per cent. In 1991 it got 10.8 per cent, in 1996 8.13, and on Sunday 6.5 per cent.

“After leading the party where it is now, the least he could do to save his dignity was to step down immediately. But he doesn’t seem to know what political sensitivity means,” Pericleous said.

“The party, which in a while will break free from its leadership that has become miserable, will finally recover.”

The acting chairman of the party, Yiannakis Omirou, agreed that Lyssarides must soon be replaced, but pointed out the party should not look for a scapegoat, but assign political responsibilities where necessary instead.

Lyssarides’ response yesterday was muted, insisting the best way to renewal was through party elections.

“Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. That’s what democracy is about, ” he said.