The postponement of the Municipal Elections in the Parliament - The three big parties were in favor
In the form of urgency, the proposal for postponement of the municipal elections and extension of the term of the already elected local authorities until the 2024 European elections is led to the Plenary in the afternoon.
The Minister of Interior, Nikos Nouris, stated today to the Committee on Interior that in yesterday's session, the Council of Ministers approved three amending bills, which, if adopted, will allow the extension of the term of the elected local authorities. These procedural bills were submitted to the Plenary in the form of urgency.
During the session, MPs from the three major parties DISY, AKEL and DIKO were in favor of postponing the local elections and their parallel holding with the European elections of 2024 and the adoption of a narrow timetable for the approval of the local self-reform bills. end of November. After the end of the session, DIPA - Cooperation was also positive, while the President of EDEK said that EDEK's proposal was to hold elections for five years. The other parties are expected to be present in the Plenary Session, however, with its announcement, the Ecologists' Movement was in favor of the normal conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of the Committee on Interior, Aristos Damianou, suggested that the Committee start on September 30 a systematic examination of the bills with a very closed horizon to complete the effort.
Speaking at the meeting, the interior minister said that in parallel with the extension of the term of the currently elected local government, there should be a commitment of the government and the legislature, "a contract of honor to the citizens" for an immediate vote on the reform.
The government, he said, is ready to agree to give additional time to complete the process of the three reform bills, and suggested that their vote be completed by the end of November, before the budget debate begins.
The Minister mentioned as additional incentives for the postponement of the elections and their parallel conduct with the 2024 European elections, the savings of 4 million, but also the observance of the schedules undertaken by Cyprus towards the European Commission, so as not to lose resources from the Fund Durability and Recovery.
At the same time, the Committee on Home Affairs decided to postpone for the next one to two weeks, its decision regarding what will happen in case of vacancy of a local government position, after the decision to extend the term. During the discussion, it was considered that there is no institutional issue until December, when the term of office of the local officials normally ends, when there is a possibility to settle the issue at a later stage.
In his statements to the journalists, Mr. Nouris described today as extremely important, after 10 years of discussions and intensive consultation, since in the afternoon the three amending bills will be brought to the Plenary to extend the term of office of the local government leaders, so that together all together and away from the frictions created by an electoral process, to be able to complete and implement the reform.
"I think we are all on the same line, I think we all see the big picture, which is not the individual issues, but the vote for this great reform effort," he said, thanking all the parliamentary parties that have identified with the need to the reform proceeded.
He added that it was never an end in itself for the government to diversify the electoral process, but said that this was necessary because leading to a five-year election next December would nullify the reform and create a clear problem in Cyprus against the European Commission's commitment to the reform will be implemented by May 2024 and there would be problems with the Recovery Fund.
The Minister stated his readiness to participate in the intensive dialogue of the Committee on Home Affairs on the reform from September 30, regardless of the hours and days.
At the same time, he said he was optimistic about the outcome of the bills, knowing, as he mentioned in great detail, the points of friction, from the time when the readiness, the will and the will of the parties to complete this huge project were shown. He also said that he hopes that soon the citizens will have at their disposal a new model of local self-government, which will be able to offer better services at the lowest possible cost, will give municipalities administrative and financial autonomy and will deal with corruption and opacity. today they exist. He also said that synergies will be created in the communities through complexes that will maximize their potential, while in the future there will be an opportunity even for rural municipalities.
In his statements, the Chairman of the Internal Affairs Committee of AKEL, Aristos Damianos, expressed his satisfaction with the level of discussion that took place in the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs.
"As is well known, for several weeks now, there has been an open public debate as to whether or not the Local Government elections would be held. "We considered it right to put an end to this institutional uncertainty, which is causing damage to the Republic itself and to its quality," he said.
As he said, the central point of the concerns in the Committee on Interior was unanimous and unanimous, that the existing model of Local Government is outdated, that Local Government, as it is today, is blowing the whistle, is facing serious problems and unfortunately is unable to meet its modern needs. , but mainly of the citizens themselves, which is why reform is a social necessity. He added that because this social necessity is paramount, in fact no matter how painful some decisions may be, in the run-up to the elections or the extension of the terms of the existing Councils, seeing the big picture, in the majority, with a vast majority, it seems the parties are in favor of postponing the elections.
Regarding AKEL, he stated that with the sole criterion of the need to complete the discussion and with the aim of implementing the reform by May 2024, the party is ready to support the proposal to postpone the elections and to extend the terms. He added that the Commission had agreed that they would start the debate immediately, starting on September 30, with the aim of completing the whole effort or possibly before the start of the State Budget debate, at the end of November 2021.
"It is a difficult task, but the ball is in our feet. Consensus is needed, dialogue is needed and absoluteness is not needed. Every political force, including us, has our views and positions. "We are entering this dialogue in a good mood," he said. He also said that with its previous composition, the Committee on Home Affairs has covered a very large area collectively, facilitating their work, with some open issues remaining and disagreements, on which, as he said, we must focus and we will do so.
DISY MP Nikos Sykas said that DISY prioritizing the national and social necessity of the local government reform, secondly the correlation of the European elections with the local government elections as well as the importance of the Recovery Fund that we know that in May 2024 to benefit practically and substantially an amount of the order of 170 million, will agree and support the extension of the existing municipal and community councils.
DIKO MP Christos Senekis stated that although the extension of the term of the existing Local Authorities is admittedly a very difficult decision, DIKO in the context of the broader consensus that was formed, agreed.
"However, we believe that this creates a strong commitment to a positive outcome of the Local Government reform, as soon as possible. "Therefore, as DIKO, we asked that the commitment of everyone to approve the reform bills, if possible before the date of the elections, should be a condition for the extension of the term, if there was no decided extension of the term", he said. He added that this reform is a social necessity and as such should be addressed in the near future by all.
The President of EDEK, Marinos Sizopoulos, after emphasizing that the reform in the Local Government is necessary and necessary and unfortunately has been delayed a lot, said that this reform, in order to be substantial and effective, should aim in two directions. First, the quality upgrade of the services offered to the citizens, resulting in the reduction of costs. Secondly, the unification of the Municipalities should aim at issues related to the unified development of the specific Municipal Authority, something which they find through the draft bill that this may not only not be fulfilled, but will create huge problems due to exactly the nature and the way in which the various Municipal Departments will operate but also the process by which the Municipal Councilors will be elected.
He also said that the big problem that needs to be answered is whether in the 2,5 years after the passage of the bill the Public Service will be really ready to be able to fulfill all of them due to the slowness with which it operates and the low percentage of productivity. the obligations so that with the beginning of the implementation of the law with the reform of the Local Self-Government to fully correspond to the operation of the Municipalities.
He added that EDEK clearly from the first moment expressed disagreement with the identification of the Municipal Elections with the European Elections, since they are two electoral processes which have a completely different political background and therefore the problems will be much bigger. He wondered why we do not equate the European elections with the Parliamentary Elections that have the same or similar political background and level, if the goal is to reduce the electoral processes.
From there on, EDEK will respect any decision and will contribute constructively in terms of improving the bill of local government reform for the benefit of mainly the citizens.
DIPA MP - Cooperation of Democratic Forces Marinos Mousiouttas, said that after today's session we seem to be moving in the right direction, with the majority decision to postpone the elections provided the parties commit that the debate on all bills will be completed before from 30 November, so that they can be put to the plenary of this House.
With this, he added, he closes a difference that DIPA - Cooperation had, which suggested that the voting of the bills and the postponement of the elections should be simultaneous. Unfortunately, he said, this proposal did not get the majority, but the fact that everyone promised to have a deadline "leaves us all satisfied".
He added that he believes that the party will vote this afternoon for what the majority of the Commission wants to postpone the elections. As the main one said, the reform is to take shape as soon as possible because a lot of work has been done and because with the reform, better quality and cheaper services will be offered to the citizen and the residents of the communities. To this end, he added, we are not going to go sideways.