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Vanishing Cyprus – Failed Democracy – Part One

Democracy is a form of government in which all people are meant to be equal and to have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. These liberties and valued principles are entrenched into the constitution as being equal before the law of the land. While in theory this sounds like a utopia to aspire to, in reality, modern democracy is badly flawed and certainly does not treat all citizens equally; on the contrary, it encourages bad leadership and generates a multi-tier society! The notion that citizens live under the rules of a true democracy is a myth. The more correct terminology can be summed up as “elected dictatorship”!

This most enviable ideology, which inspires oppressed nations to rise up against corrupt governments and oppressors, is probably the finest political system ever developed. Modern democracy, however, certainly does not come close to the Athenian democracy of the past (equally flawed), but it has rather been adapted, nicked and tucked here and there, to meet the political fashions of the day. Like a chameleon that changes its colours for survival, governments have become cunning, manipulative and use citizens’ votes for power and control.
A common practice applied during election time, is to hype up people’s expectations through promises and misinformation in their attempt to win over their vote. Once elected into office, the majority often ignores those who put them there in the first place! And, a most shameful act indeed! It is no wonder electoral discontent and apathy has become endemic in many countries across the world! The dwindling number of voter-participation at the ballot box is a clear indication that something has really gone badly wrong. This voter-apathy illustrates that democracy no longer represents all people equally and the slow realization of “elected dictatorship” has been well bred within the echelons of governments.
Albert Venn Dicey (4 February 1835 – 7 April 1922) a British Constitutional expert, jurist and a theorist, attempting to analyze the democratic principle stated: “The people elect the parliament, the parliament makes the law, the judiciary interprets the law, and the executive governs within the law. Ultimate control rests with the people who elect the parliament and therefore indirectly control the government and all executive powers. A true democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people empowered by the people’s veto.”
Great principles but no government dares to contemplate the idea of introducing a “people’s veto” in society, for they will lose power and control; and that’s the last thing they want to do – Switzerland may be the only country that offers such a true democratic principle in the likes of a “people’s veto” through referendums. This displays groundbreaking mentality and vision of a true democracy in action, where parliamentary procedure triumphs over personal interests. The Swiss-type of democracy has revealed that people not only can be masters of the vote, but they can equally be masters of the state.
While there is no universally accepted definition of democracy, equality and freedom, have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since the ancient times. It has become evident that through time, those principles have been misrepresented and democracy has become more authoritarian and no longer functions on the principles that was originally founded upon, save one exception: all citizens have the right to vote during elections! Western democracies imbedded the notion into peoples’ minds, that, by casting their vote every five years, they have fulfilled their duty as citizens of the state and they are no longer needed. Meanwhile, the political elite governs without transparency or any accountability on matters of national importance and by the same token, the public is kept in the dark. Consequently, crucial decisions are taken on their behalf, and without their consent on policy-matters, affecting their lives.
All considered, it is evident that ideologically, a select political class, who rotate from power to opposition and back, has systematically transformed the democratic process; they now rule nations under the banner of “democracy”! In reality, there is not much difference between political parties nowadays, in the way they govern or behave. Essentially, they have become homogenized into one mould; all-aiming for power by capitalizing upon peoples’ votes, to achieve their objectives.
According to the 2010 Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index, only 12.3% of the world population enjoy Full Democracy; 37.2% practice Flawed Democracy; 14% Hybrid Democracy and 36.5% Authoritarian Regimes. Sweden scored the highest marks while North Korea scored the lowest.
The Republic of Cyprus came in 39th place out of 167 countries – not too bad for a young nation – but it was listed under Flawed Democracy. This is not surprising at all!  Political parties on the island – sadly a necessary evil – have become so dogmatically centralized, they forget their intended purpose to serve the public. The presidential system on the other hand, encourages the incubation of autocracy.
A president, having been elected by the people can say that he/she is the choice of the people for the people, and consequently, has the right to practically do anything at the stroke of a pen; an amazing power in the hands of one person! A political system must not be based on serving the interests of private individuals – as is the case of modern democracy – but to serve for the common good of all. Fortunately for world citizens, republics are not so commonly practiced around the world, and for a very good reason: to eliminate the prospect of a president becoming a despot.
By examining the existing political climate in Cyprus, one can fully understand “flawed democracy”. In the Republic’s constitution for example, there is no legislative mechanism to remove an elected president from office, until the very end of the tenure. That in itself is the cornerstone of a “flawed democracy” which can be manipulated and abused to nurture despotism.
It is more proper that the Law should govern, than to place the supreme power in some particular politician. That person appointed should only act as the guardian of the constitution and servant of the Law, and not single handedly make decisions affecting an entire nation. That is an archaic principle, which serves to consolidate absolute power vested in the hands of an individual, and close political associates.
Cicero, the ancient Roman statesman stated: “we are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free”.  But to be free, it has its price; there is no such thing as “absolute freedom”! Controlled freedom and accountability within the Rule of Law in democracy, is what individuals aspire to, and that cherished principle applies to all equally, including heads of state. Having a “president” is not only a waste of the nation’s purse, but it is also unnecessary; parliamentary democracy is much closer to the original noble idea of democracy than “presidential rule”.
Cyprus today, is faced with a scenario where the president stubbornly refuses to resign irrespective of a public outcry, calling for his resignation. The president, on constitutional grounds, claims that: “the public had elected him for five years and therefore cannot be removed by anyone”; not even the public! So much for democracy! Such behaviour by those in power indicates that the existing constitution in Cyprus is badly flawed in a badly flawed democracy, which certainly does not provide a constitutional “escape clause” to remove an unpopular head of state from office.
Changes are necessary, but one cannot solve those problems by thinking in the same frame of mind, which has brought those problems in the first place. There is a need for political boldness and determination to walk away from the outdated formulas of the past that have tainted democracy and the country in general. Equally, one needs to take leadership to invent the future of tomorrow…
Continued – next article.
Author of:
WHO SHALL GOVERN CYPRUS – Brussels or Nicosia? -Political analysis
ANDARTES – a revolutionary riveting novel- (Every Greek house should have this).
PORPHYRA in PURPLE – a metaphysical spellbinding novel
All books are available from: Bookshops, Barnes & Noble,,, Waterstone’s, Kindle and the Internet. Other published articles can be found on Google under “Vanishing Cyprus” or under “Andreas C Chrysafis”.

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