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Politics

Youtuber Who Won Cyprus EU Parliament Seat Warns Politicians 

NICOSIA – A 24-year-old social media sensation who won one of Cyprus’ six spots in the 720-seat European Parliament said his win should be a wake up call for politicians to pay attention to what the people want, not themselves.

Fidias Panayiotou received the third most votes and was elected as an Independent, a veritable one-man party who bested veterans from political parties he said had taken the voters for granted and should beware.

He had called himself a “professional mistake maker” who came to fame for his mission to track down and hug X owner Elon Musk – which he did – and spending a week in a coffin among his repertoire.

He has more than 2.6 million subscribers and got 19.4 percent of the vote after campaigning that he knew nothing about politics or the European Parliament but that he would learn. “It was a shock what happened, a miracle,” said the BBC.

He told state broadcaster CyBC: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernize and listen to the people,” suggesting established political parties on the island were in a comfortable rut.

In 2023, he had to apologize after he caused a ruckus in Japan for a YouTube video showing him evading train fares and a breakfast bill at a 5-Star hotel, theft of service in both cases that he boasted about.

The clip, which got millions of views, saw him travel across Japan on its famed bullet train, while dodging fares by hiding in toilets and feigning illness to get out of paying and crowing about it.

But after he celebrated his win with a gathering at Eleftheria Square in the island’s capital Nicosia he had a more serious tone and said, “we are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally.”

He finished behind candidates from the ruling conservative DISY, which got 25 percent and kept its two EU lawmakers, and the Communist AKEL, which lost one of two seats. Voters also elected candidates from the ultranationalist ELAM and centrist party DIKO.

At his announcement to run he showed up wearing three ties, a jacket, and shorts, shunning more formal wear.

“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 said.

Fidias, who served in the Cypriot army’s Underwater Demolition Command admitted that in the past he used to back the far-right ELAM and didn’t duck that he did, seeming to win points for his honesty.

On his decision to run as an independent he said: “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. 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 credited social media, said Philenews. “This is maybe the first time a completely independent candidate has been elected, without having any connection with a political party, but with social media as his only weapon, and nothing else.”

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