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Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL, S.Stefanou, at the Pancyprian Statutory Congress of AKEL


Sunday 26 November 2023, Nicosia Conference Centre



No one obliged us to be here today.

No one determined the need for this introspection which leads to changes.

Changes that emerge primarily from the need to respond to the new social reality that is evolving around us and to the messages we are receiving from our own Party membership.

Changes that arise from life itself and reality. Changes that are demanded from us first and foremost by the people of AKEL and the Left.

This is precisely what we as a Party did in 1990, when, within an extremely difficult international context for the Left, we attempted a profound modernisation in order to be able to respond better, more effectively and quicker to the challenges and stakes of the times. With the changes we made back then, AKEL managed to chart a new upward course, to open up new paths and reach new heights.

Life itself has once again demonstrated that we must constantly make changes, respond to the demands of our times if we want to be a constantly vigorous and dynamic organisation.

It is a duty of responsibility we owe both to ourselves and our Party, which will soon be 100 years old.

100 years of history which in active political struggle translates into a responsibility towards History.

AKEL has never been a protest Party. It has always been and remains a Party of resistance and assertion, a Party of creation. Resistance to all that degrades society and demeans people. A Party of creation and assertion for the progress of our country and the well-being of its people.

Besides, this is also the reason why AKEL has managed, since its foundation, to be at the forefront of our country’s political affairs because it is in constant dialogue with society. Because in its actions and demands it manages to respond to the concerns and express people’s aspirations. Because it is constantly in the frontline of the struggles for its rights.

For that reason, this AKEL has no right in the face of its History to remain static

by allowing our times to bypass it. It must correct its mistakes and weaknesses, make its self-criticism with courage, coordinate its pace with society and the times. It must modernise and renew itself so that it can actively respond to the new challenges we face and act as a bulwark against anti-people, anti-social and intolerant policies.

AKEL must always look to the future.

That is what we have declared and that is precisely what we are doing, carrying with us the proud legacy of our past.

But isn’t that what we have always done?

With an eye to the future, in the early 1940s, AKEL transcended party boundaries and addressed society at large. Remaining a Marxist Leninist party, it defined itself as a broad party of the Left, a popular party of the working people, gaining a foothold beyond its narrow party audience.

This is who we are. This is our political DNA. This is AKEL.

The Party – in the vanguard of the great strike and class struggles waged against the exploitation and oppression of the plutocracy, the loan sharks and the establishment.

The Party – the vanguard force in the national struggles, from the right to self-determination to shake off colonialism to the battles to defend the independence and territorial integrity of our country. To the battles we conducted in defence of democracy.

The Party-force of progress and prosperity for the worker, the peasant, the toiling masses, the poor and the marginalised. The Party of progress and prosperity for our country and people.

The Party that has never hesitated when life demands it to seek cooperation and consensus at all levels of party and political life with the sole criterion and aim of serving the welfare and benefit of all the people.

Our ideology always serves as a springboard to open up our horizons and highlight the Cypriot Left as a force for social change…

The recent presidential elections were a shining example of this political outward-looking approach. We supported the independent candidacy of Andreas Mavrogiannis and we fought the election battle with hopeful prospects. We may have eventually lost the elections, but we won something valuable: a broad progressive front, which is seeking an alternative progressive political proposal for the governance of the country.


Yes, no one obliged us to be here today.

Except for our almost one hundred years of History which requires us to keep our eyes on the future and to continue envisioning.

It may sound romantic in these cynical times we live in, but if we remove emotion from political struggle, it will remain a barren landscape strewn without its main protagonist: the common people and their wellbeing. We should never forget that it is the common people and their happiness that gave birth to the Left and its ideology.

It is, after all, emotion, and the ability to envision a better world that we believe is possible, that led us to this Party. To this conference hall. At this particular time when we are called upon to look our History in the eye and renew our appointment for the next 100 years.

It is with these thoughts and this deep human feeling that I stand before you today, so that we can all continue to look to the future together. To the future of our Cyprus. To the future of our people. To the future of our working people and society. To the future of our Party.

Because all of us in this hall and thousands of others out there in society know very well that for a strong hope and prospects to exist for our country and people, a strong AKEL is a prerequisite. A powerful, assertive, militant and creative Left.

That is who we are and that is who we will continue to be. Fighters for everything that makes people and society more humane.

At the 23rd Regular Congress of the Party, which was held in July 2021, the need to further upgrade, strengthen and broaden AKEL’s relations with society was underlined strongly. The need to become more effective and timely in our decisions and interventions was also stressed. More flexible in our tactics, more visible in society with quicker reactions and reflexes.

Standing with consistency on the side of working people, the common people who need support in the face of the numerous problems they face.

We should intervene effectively for all those whose rights are being violated. To promote policies that make the lives of working people and society better and of higher quality.

The fulfillment of this goal means:

  • Supporting a developed welfare state that should serve rather than trouble citizens and that should ensure social cohesion
  • The existence of a strong and sustainable economy that safeguards a viable growth and supports the welfare state
  • The respect of the environment and safeguarding sustainability.
  • The safeguarding of human rights, the freedoms, dignity of each and everyone within the framework of an advanced state governed by the rule of law.


The main objective of the statutory and rule changes is to deepen internal party democracy by enhancing the voice and role of members in the Party’s debate and decision-making processes. It is also to modernise the organisational structure of the Party by simplifying and speeding up Party procedures.

The proposed changes were discussed in the C.C. and the Party grassroots, as provided for in our Party Statutes. Today we are in the final stage of the process. We will collectively decide on the changes to the Statutes and Rules of Operation and as of tomorrow we will be back to work and in the struggle…!

It is worth saying – and we say this with pride – that there is no other political force in Cyprus that follows such democratic, collective and lively procedures that involve the thousands of Party members in the political process itself. AKEL does not want its members to be applauders. It wants its members to be protagonists in the making and implementation of decisions. And today, our Congress is further proof of this.

Allow me – although you already know the amendments – to make a rough presentation of the main amendments:

  • Introduction of a quota to give more space and, by extension, a greater role to the participation of volunteer cadres in the C.C. Our Party, fortunately, has many and competent volunteer cadres. We are creating more space for them to be elected to the C.C. Together with the professional full-time cadres they can form a strong mixture, achieving greater representation of working people and a greater plurality of views and experience. AKEL is not only the party that fights FOR the working people. It is the Party OF the working people. And this must be reflected in the whole structure called AKEL.
  • The election of the General Secretary by the Congress instead of the Central Committee enhances the role that you, the elected delegates, have in the Party procedures. The wisdom of the many, especially of our most active members, will lead to an even greater deepening of the democratic processes in the Party. It goes without saying that the General Secretary that will be elected in this way, will continue to be accountable to the Central Committee, something that fully safeguards the leadership’s collectivity.
  • Another change is the abolition of the evaluation of candidates for the C.C. Past experience has shown us that the evaluation made caused more problems than it attempted to solve. With phenomena characterised by introversion, ill-intentioned competition between districts and personal bitterness. Moreover, this puts a definitive end to the criticism made of the Party for supposedly pursuing undemocratic procedures. Consequently, the Selection Committee is also abolished.
  • We are proposing to reduce the terms of office in the public posts of an MP and MEP from three to two terms, which continue to be offset as laid down in the Rules of Procedure. In doing so the preconditions for the promotion of new cadres, will be created and incentives are provided for cadres, but also for broader forces, to get involved in the electoral procedure. And, of course, the valuable experience of those who will complete their time in public office will be used to strengthen the Party’s actions. Besides, everyone here knows that for us in AKEL, our contribution neither begins, nor ends in public posts.
  • With regards to the selection of candidates for the Parliamentary Elections, we propose that the C.C. should have the possibility to add a limited number of candidates to the Party’s ballot papers. This will make it easier for us to include personalities from broader areas and to have broad ballots.
  • We introduce a provision on the incompatibility of the posts of the Central Organisational Secretary, District Organisational Secretaries with the public posts of MP, MEP, Mayor and President of a District Organisation.
  • We also submit a proposal to establish a procedure for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic. Building on the experience gained so far, we want to avoid endless procedures by involving the Party membership as a whole in a structured way. At the same time, we are giving the Party leadership the opportunity and flexibility to take steps that will lead to the best possible choices. This change responds to a point made universally by the Party grassroots as a whole after the last Presidential Elections. So without taking anything away from the democratic collective process, we are making it more flexible and faster.

The package of changes is complemented by reducing the period of Party activity/membership for running for internal party offices, amendments to the rules of procedure of the Control Committee, restructuring – improving our organisational work, as well as changes in relation to the management of the Party’s finances.

I won’t go into details because I want to get back to the original big picture: the picture of a Party renewed according to the demands of the 21st century.

As I said before, our greatest concern is to take the messages of our era and readjust our activity according to the demands of the new era without changing our ideological orientation and character. I want to stress here that steadfastness in principles is one thing and stagnation in yesterday’s practices is something else. It is our ideology that calls for changes, constant evolution, alliances and a constant movement within the people and society.


The Statutory Congress marks a new beginning for AKEL.

A beginning that changes at various levels the internal mode of the Party’s functioning.

A beginning however that also expresses the strengthening of extroversion in the way the Party interacts with society.

In recent months, important processes have taken place in the evolvement of the custom of the New Forces into a broader Social Alliance. Our assessment is that on the one hand the New Forces have fulfilled their historical cycle and that the custom needs to be restructured.

On the other hand, the momentum created by the Party’s decision to support the independent candidacy of Mavroyiannis, as expressed in the result of the Presidential Elections, highlighted the need for the creation of a political platform which, on the basis of a specific political agenda, unites the forces of progressive people who aspire to a different Cyprus.

We are close to the formation of the Social Alliance which will represent a political platform, which, in relation to the New Forces, will be qualitatively upgraded in three main pillars.

The draft proposal provides for the qualitative upgrade of the New Forces in three main pillars:

  • It will be based on a specific political agenda which will represent the guiding compass of the rallying together of a broader progressive spectrum with AKEL.
  • It will have a loose structure, which will give the possibility to the Platform to have more visibility in society and a better two-way relationship with the Party.
  • It will give the opportunity for an upgraded participation in the processes of discussion and fermentation on serious issues of the Party.

So we will build together with friends, fellow fighters, the big progressive majority on basis such as the solution of the Cyprus problem and reunification, the welfare state, ecology, human rights, the rule of law, transparency and accountability. We will build the big coalition that will change the balance of forces and pave the way for changes in the country, in society, in the governance of the country and in institutions.

The statutory changes, the formation of the Social Alliance, the upgrading of our joint action with movements and social organisations in the arena of anti-fascism and anti-racism, ecology and human rights are part of the intense effort we give a more concrete and practical content to our intervention.

We are also developing concrete action in other fields of action.

The Cyprus problem remains the first priority in our field of activity. Our national problem is in a prolonged stalemate – the longest ever – with each passing month weighing heavily on the prospect of a solution. AKEL considers that there is only one option before us. Committed to the model of a viable solution, namely Bi-zonal, Bicommunal Federation, we will persevere until hope appears on the horizon. The hope for freedom and reunification that we are cultivating and seeking to develop by pointing the way for a resumption of the negotiations from the point where they were interrupted in 2017, on the basis of the Guterres Framework and preserving the convergences that have been achieved.

We cultivate the hope of a solution by continuing to promote the policy of rapprochement and cooperation with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, who are our natural allies in the struggle for a solution.

Another field of action is society in relation to the economy. In particular, we are waging our struggle to tackle the price increases and expensiveness that afflicts thousands of our fellow citizens. From the exacerbation of the housing problem to the daily struggle for survival.

As a Party, we are not content with oppositionist rhetoric, but put forward specific proposals. Whether they are on housing, on young couples and young parents, on energy, on foreclosures, on protecting the environment. We do this through organised national campaigns that enable us to engage with people who are pinning their hopes on us. These people are growing in numbers, since the government from the very beginning of its rule has managed to disappoint even many of those who voted for Mr. Christodoulides.

AKEL carries out its role as the major and consistent force of the opposition – in fact, as the only opposition – with responsibility towards the people and the country. It is a progressive and social opposition. A militant and creative opposition. Opposition from the point of view of the needs of society, of working people, of vulnerable groups, of the young generation. For everything that AKEL criticises the Christodoulides government of, for its decisions and omissions, we submit our own proposals, we propose well-documented and realistic solutions. This is our stand and action against a government that unfortunately, so far, has been in all directions, a disappointment and, above all, it seems to be following in the footsteps of the Anastasiades-DISY government. Moreover, N. Christodoulides has stated this publicly so as to leave no room whatsoever for any doubt that he is the successor to the Anastasiades-DISY government. This is its announced “change” – stagnation and being trapped in the past.


We have difficult battles to wage ahead of us: the simultaneous European/Local Authority elections in 2024 and two years later the parliamentary elections in 2026.

It is my absolute conviction that if we make the necessary statutory changes, combined with opening up the Party to society and strengthening our intervention in the field of political and social struggles, we will elevate AKEL to the position it deserves.

First in people’s hearts.

The first force in action in the Parliament, in local government, in the European Parliament. At the forefront in social struggles.

A prerequisite for achieving our goals is a strong, united and vigorous AKEL.

A renewed, strong, modern, mass party of the Left that will continue to play a leading role in developments.

Together, united as one, we will achieve this.

For our people. For our Cyprus. As we have been doing for almost a hundred years. As we will continue to do so for another hundred years.

Long live AKEL!

Long live our people!

Long live our Cyprus!




International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


AKEL's Statutory Congress continues - The main statutory changes have been approved