I want to argue that we owe to AKEL and Jimmy the most interesting elections in Cyprus politics. AKEL decided in 1988 to support George Vassileiou and against all odds (there must have been an ambient atmosphere back then from the DIKO establishment), managed to get George elected. George was like a sea of fresh air since, unlike every other politician at the time, he had not been directly involved in politics since 1960. In fact, he was not part of the first generation EOKA fighters, and he did not even try to associate himself with them! He appointed young upstarts with promising credentials (George Lillikas), started a university against all advice to the contrary, put in an application to an organisation known as the European Community, and even claimed that he wanted to solve Da Stravaraland problem YESTERDAY. Big words. Which he lived to pay in 1993 when the establishment hit back with Glafkos. Back then, in 1993, even Tassos would support Glafkos over the upstart Vassileiou, right?
Moreover, AKEL (under Jimmy by now) stood to its guns, both in 1993 and 1998, and again we had the most close elections since 1988. AKEL lost but still, democracy became more entrenched as the final result was never disputed and it was not so clear who the winner would be (unlike pre-1988 elections). Well, to some extent. The point is that the 95% days of Makarios, or the withdraw-your-candidacy-because-Achilleas-is-abducted or even the support-me-or-foreign-agents-will-Captain-Nemo-us days of Spiros, were gone for ever.
And we come to this election campaign. Which might actually prove quite interesting. Contrary to the attempts of the new establishment (Lillikas etc) to bring back the 2004 atmosphere without any ideas or proposals about what the future holds or should hold, people are beginning to question the value a 1960s EOKA man can offer to the country post 2008. People wonder. Is there really a vision for the future beyond the goal of securing another election victory? One reads even in the state-newspaper, Big Phil, articles questioning the idea that discussing the dead-and-buried Annan Plan is productive in any real sense. One begins to ask whether the emperor has any clothes. And for that questioning to have been made possible, you have no-one else to thank but Jimmy. Yes, whether you like it or not, whether you like his post 2004 behavior, you have to thank Jimmy for taking a stand when he could do something about it, namely NOW. Given the political system and the political situation, he waited to strike at the right moment, still with substantial risk, to give us the best show in terms of elections since independence. For that alone, you have to be grateful to him.