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Society

On Cyprus, An Apolitical TikTok Influencer Seeks EU Parliament Seat 

NIKOSIA – Fidias Panayiotou admits he doesn’t know much of anything about politics, but he sure knows how to use social media and the 24-year-old influencer is using it to be in line for one of Cyprus’ six seats in the European Parliament in June 6-9 elections.

He told the site POLITICO he’s running because he just can’t stomach what he calls the “nerds” in Brussels, one of the homes of the parliament, along with Strasbourg in France where there will be 720 members after the elections, up from 705.

https://www.politico.eu/article/cyprus-tiktoker-fidias-panayiotou-political-waves-european-elections/

The body is largely symbolic and has relatively little impact beyond passing resolutions and raising visibility for the kind of issues he said he eschews, but he nevertheless wants his voice heard there for Cyprus.

The latest poll showed him fifth on 8.7 percent support, in place to secure a seat ahead of traditional political parties that are running six candidates each, such as the Socialist EDEK, the centrist DEPA and the Green party, the news site said.

“Fidias,” as he calls himself on sites such as TikTok, has built up 2.6 million subscribers on his YouTube channel since he began posting in 2019, gaining fame through a mission to hug Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of the X platform. He eventually did.

But he also saw some blowback by attempting to travel across India and Japan without paying, and instead begging for cash, which seemed unseemly to critics who didn’t like the spectacle of it.

He’s unconventional, of course, He wore three ties, a suit and shorts when he announced his candidacy in January where he said he has no idea how politics or the European Union works while wanting to be a representative for his country.

“I am 23 years old and I have never voted in my life, and I said to myself one night that if I never vote and I never take an interest, the same nerds are always going to be in power, and I said ‘enough!,’” he announced.

In April Fidias submitted his candidacy alongside his father, a priest, wearing a suit and a bow tie and said he was willing to learn about the machinations of politics, which can be Machiavellian, especially in the EU.

“I heard somewhere that if you are not satisfied with things around you and you want them to change, you have to be the change,” he said. “Why did I choose to be independent? Because I can’t fit into molds. Because I want you to know that I have no party interests to serve.”

He added that his goal was not to get elected, but to motivate young people to get involved in politics although voters have next to no interest about who their country’s candidates are for the European Parliament which is largely out of sight.

Cyprus’  two largest parties, the Democratic Rally and the Progressive Party of Working People, are in a tight race for first place,although there’s worry that more people will abstain than vote.

“The Fidias case is the definition of post-politics at a time when content production is a strategic priority for the European Union itself – beyond political planning,” John Ioannou, founder of Geopolitical Cyprus, told POLITICO.

“His venture resonates with broader themes, including the resurgence of populist sentiments in Europe, the primacy of image over ideology, and the imperative of civic engagement, particularly among nascent voters in countries like Cyprus.”

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