The time is counting down for the June 9th multi-elections in Cyprus, as 706,534 voters are invited to nominate their representatives in the European Parliament and in local government. This is an unprecedented process for Cypriot data, as a total of 7,281 candidates are contesting their election, while Cypriot voters are expected to receive a record number of ballots, which in some cases reaches nine. The Elections Service calculates that each voter will need about five to six minutes at the screen in order to “cross” their electors for election to the European Parliament, municipal councils, regions and even school ephorates (financial management bodies of school units).

The battle of the first

The electoral process of June 9 hides many challenges for the party scene in Cyprus. The opinion polls so far show an inconclusive battle for the first place with the right-wing party, Democratic Alarm, even a marginal winner. For DISY, on the one hand, the first place locks the two seats in the European Parliament and, on the other hand, it will bring calm after the storms that the party has been going through since the 2023 presidential elections and the rift caused by the candidacy and subsequent election of Nikos Christodoulidis in Presidency of the Republic.

On the other side, the left-wing party AKEL has behind it a successful pre-election campaign for the 2023 presidential elections with the support it provided to Andreas Mavroyiannis, which managed to attract what AKEL calls the world of “New forces”. The bet for the party of the Left is to capitalize on the support that Andreas Mavroyiannis received in the presidential elections in order to find the first party again, something that has been happening since the parliamentary elections of 2006.

Normalization of the extreme right

Although the presence of AKEL in the first place would signal a significant change in the political scene of Cyprus, even more important will be the change of the so-called regulator, i.e. the party that occupies the 3rd place. The center-right DIKO had never lost this role and had established itself over the years as the 3rd force, something that now seems to be changing. Cyprus could not remain unaffected by the now pan-European current of turning to the Far Right with the National People’s Front (ELAM), the former branch of the Golden Dawn in Cyprus, presenting itself in opinion polls as the party that will occupy the 3rd place and be elected for first time in the history of the MEP, who is expected to join the group of European Conservatives and Reformists, where Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party, “Brothers of Italy”, as well as other far-right parties in Europe belong.

A little bit about immigration, a little bit of the general aversion to traditional parties, but also a little bit of the change in the profile of ELAM, is expected to lead the far-right party to double-digit percentages. Far right has now been normalized in Cyprus. A typical example of the normalization is the fact that the former government representative and until a few months ago vice-president of the DISY Marios Pelekanos now appears on the ELAM ballot, while the former Finance Commissioner of Cyprus Pavlos Ioannou is also claiming a seat in the European Parliament with ELAM.

The influencer candidate

One of Cyprus’s six seats in the European Parliament is claimed by a YouTuber. From his channel on the platform, Phidias Panagiotou, an influencer with millions of followers, known to the youth, literally ran from one end to the other across Cyprus to convince young people to register on the electoral rolls. Phidias presented himself with a completely popular profile, trying to convince that this is the new thing in politics, formulating positions without much political depth and speaking in the Cypriot dialect, in order to convince that he is close to the citizens. At least in terms of opinion polls, his effort seems to be gaining ground and now it is very likely that he will finish 5th, overtaking traditional parties of the Center such as EDEK and the Environmentalists. In fact, depending on the percentages of the rest, he might have a small chance of making a huge surprise and occupying one of the six seats in the European Parliament. A similar picture is presented by the newly founded Volt party, which, like in other European countries, came to Cyprus as well, and has taken down a full combination and the opinion polls show it quite high for a party that has not even completed a year of existence.

Turkish Cypriots on the ballot again

The participation of the Turkish Cypriots in the elections is also of particular importance – if not critical -. Three Turkish Cypriots are vying for a seat in the new European Parliament: Niazi Kizilyurek with AKEL, having as legacy the previous five years, the anti-federalist Oz Karahan with the Environmentalists and Hulusi Kilim with Volt. A total of 103,269 Turkish Cypriots have the right to vote in the European elections, a number sufficient to significantly change the electoral percentages, as was also the case in 2019. In fact, the participation of the Turkish Cypriots cannot be excluded to decide the battle for first place, given that in 2019 it gave AKEL a an additional percentage of close to 1.5% and to Niazi Kizilgiurek, who received 4,076 out of 5,804 votes, a seat in the European Parliament, leaving AKEL executive and former minister Neoklis Silikiotis out of the European Parliament.