Sunday, June 16, 2024

Fidias Panayiotou: YouTube prankster from Cyprus elected as MEP

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A popular YouTuber from Cyprus has been elected as an independent MEP to the European Parliament.

Fidias Panayiotou has previously described himself as a “professional mistake maker” and some of his online hijinks include trying to hug 100 celebrities – including Elon Musk – and spending a week in a coffin.

The 24-year-old has more than 2.6 million subscribers and – despite having no political experience – garnered the third-largest number of votes with 19.4%.

“It was a shock what happened, a miracle,” said Mr Panayiotou.

He told state broadcaster CyBC: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people.”

Last year Mr Panayiotou was forced to apologise after he caused outrage in Japan for a YouTube video in which he dodged train fares and a five-star hotel breakfast bill.

The clip, which racked up millions of views, saw him travel across Japan on its famed bullet train, while dodging fares by hiding in toilets and feigning illness.

But on Sunday, he celebrated his win with a gathering at Eleftheria Square in the island’s capital Nicosia, where he said: “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally.”

According to Politico, Mr Panayiotou declared in January he would run in the polls.

Appearing on Cypriot TV, Alpha Cyprus – where he wore trainers, shorts, a suit jacket and three neck ties – he admitted that he had never voted, knew little about politics and the EU, but that he could no longer stand the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels.

When Mr Panayiotou submitted his candidacy in April, he admitted that his goal was not to get elected but to motivate young people to get involved in politics.

The Mediterranean island nation has a population of about 900,000, of whom more than 683,000 were registered to vote in the weekend’s polls.

Turnout in Cyprus was at just under 59% – up from 45% in the 2019 elections, with analysts attributing the rise in part to the “Fidias factor”.

According analysis of exit poll data by news site Philenews, Mr Panayiotou won 40% of the votes from the 18-24 age group and 28% of votes from the 25-34 group.

Six Cypriot MEPs were elected.

Mr Panayiotou came third behind the conservative DISY (25%) which retained its two MEPs, and the communist party AKEL (22%) which lost one of its two MEPs.

Cypriot voters also elected an MEP from the ultranationalist party ELAM (11%) and the centrist party Diko (10%).

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