Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades who announced in September his intention to run for president of the Republic of Cyprus in 2023 already had about 40 meetings with organisations, experts, people, as well as political parties.
His aim is to understand society’s needs better but one message he certainly receives is that the time has come for an independent candidate to win the race.
That’s why the human rights expert who has been independent of political party affiliations all his life looks at the road ahead with optimism.
Read full interview here:
—After two meetings with the public – the first in Limassol, the second in Larnaca – what’s the feeling you get as regards your chances to win the February 2023 presidential election?
The purpose of my meetings with the public in Limassol, on 24 November 2021 and Larnaca, on 7 December 2021, was to continue with my public consultation.
In total, I had about 40 other meetings with organisations, experts, people, as well as political parties in an effort to understand the needs of our society better.
This wealth of knowledge will be incorporated in my program, which is being drafted, and I am deeply grateful that people have embraced this exercise.
To the degree that one can be hopeful about these things I am looking at the road ahead with optimism.
—What seems to be the main concern of the people you have had personal contact with? Do you feel there is a real urge for Cyprus to change mentality?
I think peoples’ biggest worry is the economy. People are concerned about their future in this country and especially for the future of their children who return from their studies and have little prospect of meaningful employment in their field of study.
Part of this concern stems from the role of the widespread corruption that exists and affects our daily lives and also affects our country’s credibility internationally.
People seem resigned to the inevitability of corruption and this makes it more important to address it urgently and escape from this mindset.
The concern for addressing the Cyprus problem is also among the key topics.
I believe that we need a three targeted effort to address the issues of our faltering economy, fight corruption and reestablish the credibility of our country so as to reopen channels to help us solve the Cyprus problem. All three avenues are of course interrelated.
—Has the time come for a party outsider, an independent candidate, to break through the establishment and win the race?
I certainly hope so. At least this is the message I get in the streets. I have been independent of political party affiliations all my life.
I have been practicing as a human rights lawyer for more than 33 years and my involvement in politics as an independent candidate was the only way forward that made sense for me.
This means that people will judge me on the program I will present and I am confident that this will not only attract individuals but also appeal to some political parties.
—Are you willing to run irrespective of the fact that no big party gives you support? And if yes what, in your view, is the most realistic outcome?
Right now the most important thing for me is to prepare my election program.
This program will be scrutinized and I am open to listen to concerns and other views. Certainly, I do not profess to be the expert on everything. As things stand now I feel that it is important for an independent view to be heard and I am hopeful that people will endorse my program irrespective of whether another party endorses my candidacy.
—How are you going to lure young and first-time voters considering that disillusionment prevails?
First-time voters are faced with two main issues. First the general disappointment in the political system and second the fact that the eligibility for voting does not come automatically. Regrettably, people are not entitled to vote as soon as they turn 18, because they first have to apply to register on the electoral roll.
This presents an obstacle (which for us may not appear big but the young may not see it this way) for young people who are disillusioned with the system and feel that their vote does not really count. Unfortunately, the effect is quite the opposite. Their decision not to take part in the voting process is detrimental to them, as others come to decide for them.
I strongly encourage that people should register and turn up to vote because this time their vote will count in order to bring about the change they desire. My running as an independent, I hope, will convince the young that this time there is an alternative worth voting for.
I also encourage everyone who wants to learn more about my campaign to visit our website at https://achilleas.eu where they can also provide their views.
Best wishes for the New Year!