The recent UK election result came as a surprise to many people. It’s not that Labour was expected to win. Or that the prospect of a hung parliament was impossible. Just that people did not really expect an alliance of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to be achieved so quickly. Obviously, in Cyprus we are used to different kinds of methodologies and party political tactics. Politicians can manoeuvre for years, entering deep and laborious negotiations before they reach an agreement. They can also change or develop a new tact between the first and second Sunday of elections. We have a different approach it seems which is largely determined by who negotiates and how, and I would take the British model any day.

The similarities are obvious. Party leaders reach an impasse, a government cannot be formed without a working majority. In Cyprus this is  solved through intensive high level  closed-door meetings between leaders. In the recent 2008 Presidential Elections, DiSY candidate Kasoulides tried to court DiKO with a ‘you fill in the blanks’ kind of approach. This was highly questionable given their poles apart type of stance on The Cyprus Problem and economic policies. AKEL settled for a more historical approach, based on the parties relationship in the past and a division of government posts.

Where this type of Mediterranean haggling bazaar differs from Britain is the role played by the civil servants from Whitehall. On announcing his departure from Downing Street, ex-Labour PM also declared support would be provided from the civil service in negotiations to form a new government – even if that process meant he would be out of power.  Brown’s departure from government is clearly  dignified and respectful.

Imagine this kind of thing happening in Cyprus. I know we have a Presidential system and not just a Parliamentary one like Britain. We also suffer from a form of clientelism which resembles a ‘banana republic’ and not an EU state. Every on in power, including many people who vote for the victors always expect to be rewarded. ‘Did my relative give me that school canteen’ ‘Can my son now get that government job’ ‘ will you give my daughter that post at CyBC’. All the pressure of  being in power make the Presidential seat a treasure chest ‘dripping with honey’. The cost of these corrupt rewards is shifted onto the taxpayer – hence why we have such a huge, costly and often inefficient state sector.

As I said before, all alliances in politics will be judged by their works in power and time will tell if the two day negociations between David Cameron and Nick Clegg will produce a better government. I do however wish we could develop a more objective system of government in Cyprus as well, based on merit, objectivity, on that is way less sectarian. Perhaps the next government alliance in Cyprus could hire some Whitehall bureaucrats to do the negotiations. It would save the parties a lot of time, money and would definitely produce better results.

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