When non-Cypriot EU voters in Paphos go to the polls for this year’s municipal elections, a handful of key issues are likely to sway their ballots – including animal welfare, expat representation and the environment.
However, few issues are likely to be as divisive - or perhaps decisive - as the proposed crematorium.
For almost a decade, the idea of building a crematorium to service the large expat community in Paphos and beyond has been politically sensitive, perennially put on the back burner by the government in the face of church opposition.
Progress remains slow, despite a push by Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas, who told the Sunday Mail that his municipality has submitted plans to the town planning department, which are awaiting final approval.
Yet with 12,000 non Cypriots registered to vote on December 18 (roughly three times the number in the last elections) and tacit endorsement by the Archbishop - all that could change as candidates start to recognise this as a possible election winner.
As one pro-crematorium Peyia resident said: “If a candidate said he would guarantee to progress the construction of a crematorium then he is going to be the winner as far as the expat vote is concerned.”
A group of non-Cypriot EU voters sent the candidates for mayor in Polis, Paphos, Yeroskipou and Peyia municipalities a list of questions asking for their responses to a series of issues that are of major concern to the expat community. These include questions about perceived unequal treatment of expats, animal welfare, illegal fly tipping, road safety and, of course, the candidates’ views on a crematorium.
The snap survey highlighted the problem of lingering church disapproval, the logistics of finding the right location, and while some candidates are well informed, others were less so.