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Election to European Parliament of YouTuber Fidias Panayiotou signals new era

June 21st, 2024

by Katerina Panagi

The recent election of Fidias Panayiotou, a TikToker and YouTuber from Cyprus, as an independent member (MEP) for the European Parliament, signals a new era in politics, not just for Cyprus, but for all of Europe.

Panayiotou is known for his trolling on the Internet, where he has labelled himself a “professional mistake maker“. His unconventional approach to politics has made him a YouTube star with more than 2.6 million subscribers, a following that has helped him to attract younger voters.

At just 24 years old, has become known for his elaborate stunts, including trying to hug 100 celebrities (like Elon Musk) and spending a week in a coffin. Despite his lack of political experience, he came third in the recent European elections, which is no mean feat for a newly formed party that polled an impressive 19.4% of the vote.

Panayiotou told state broadcaster CyBC he was “shocked” and this is a “miracle“. He said his victory was a message to the traditional parties to change their traditional ways and directions and to stop mocking the people – but rather act in the in the interest of the Cypriot nation and not for their financial favour.

He candidly admitted multiple times on social media (YouTube, TikTok, Instagram etc) that he knew nothing about politics or the European Union but vowed to ask questions, read, and learn.

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 commented on Philenews.

His journey to the European Parliament has not been without controversy. Last year, he faced a public criticism over a video he posted on YouTube in Japan where he skipped train fares and evaded a bill of five-star hotel for breakfast. The video showed him travelling around Japan in one of its iconic trains while hiding in toilets and pretending to be sick so as not to pay his fare charges. It attracted millions of viewers but also had widespread condemnation. He later apologized to the Japanese people, which led him to permanently remove the video.

However, his popularity and influence have only grown, which resulted into his election. On June 9, 2024, the night of his victory, Panayiotou celebrated with supporters at Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, proclaiming, “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but also internationally”, sparking controversy among the globe.

There was a notable increase in the turnout of recent elections of 58.86%, up from 45% in the 2019 elections, which some have proclaimed is ‘The Fidias phenomenon’, crediting Panayiotou for  reenergizing the youth participation, among other reasons.

According to news site Philenews, Panayiotou won 40% of votes belonging to those aged between 18-24 years while he got 28% of votes cast by those falling within the age bracket of 25-34 years.

Panayiotou’s election has taken place within a wider context of change in the political landscape of Cyprus. A total of six Cypriot MEPs including Panayiotou were elected, the others being from the Democratic Rally (DISY) which took two seats, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), National Popular Front (ELAM) and Democratic Party (DIKO).

The rise of Fidia Panayiotou is a sign that people are becoming less trusting of traditional politicians in general and that the European Parliament needs new voices – especially young voices. His accomplishments demonstrate how social media influencers may utilize their platforms to both influence and become active in politics as well as in the public sphere.

Panayiotou’s election ushers in a new era in Cypriot and European politics, where digital power and youthfulness can shake up the foundations of conventional political structures. As Panayiotou starts his work at the European Parliament, it will be interesting to see what influence his unconventional background and unique perspective will have on European policy making.

One thing is clear: a change has come to the political situation, with Fidia Panayiotou’s election being a symbol of transformation.

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About the author

Katerina Panagi

Katerina Panagi is a full-time Project Manager and Researcher at CARDET, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental, research and development organization based in Cyprus. She is also a part-time freelance journalist in Cyprus. As a researcher, she is a goal oriented person. She likes learning new things each day and being the best version of herself. Since she believes in lifelong learning, her ambitions are to advance her skills, knowledge and herself as much as she can, but also volunteer and gain further experience.

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by Katerina Panagi

The recent election of Fidias Panayiotou, a TikToker and YouTuber from Cyprus, as an independent member (MEP) for the European Parliament, signals a new era in politics, not just for Cyprus, but for all of Europe.

Panayiotou is known for his trolling on the Internet, where he has labelled himself a “professional mistake maker“. His unconventional approach to politics has made him a YouTube star with more than 2.6 million subscribers, a following that has helped him to attract younger voters.

At just 24 years old, has become known for his elaborate stunts, including trying to hug 100 celebrities (like Elon Musk) and spending a week in a coffin. Despite his lack of political experience, he came third in the recent European elections, which is no mean feat for a newly formed party that polled an impressive 19.4% of the vote.

Panayiotou told state broadcaster CyBC he was “shocked” and this is a “miracle“. He said his victory was a message to the traditional parties to change their traditional ways and directions and to stop mocking the people – but rather act in the in the interest of the Cypriot nation and not for their financial favour.

He candidly admitted multiple times on social media (YouTube, TikTok, Instagram etc) that he knew nothing about politics or the European Union but vowed to ask questions, read, and learn.

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 commented on Philenews.

His journey to the European Parliament has not been without controversy. Last year, he faced a public criticism over a video he posted on YouTube in Japan where he skipped train fares and evaded a bill of five-star hotel for breakfast. The video showed him travelling around Japan in one of its iconic trains while hiding in toilets and pretending to be sick so as not to pay his fare charges. It attracted millions of viewers but also had widespread condemnation. He later apologized to the Japanese people, which led him to permanently remove the video.

However, his popularity and influence have only grown, which resulted into his election. On June 9, 2024, the night of his victory, Panayiotou celebrated with supporters at Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, proclaiming, “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but also internationally”, sparking controversy among the globe.

There was a notable increase in the turnout of recent elections of 58.86%, up from 45% in the 2019 elections, which some have proclaimed is ‘The Fidias phenomenon’, crediting Panayiotou for  reenergizing the youth participation, among other reasons.

According to news site Philenews, Panayiotou won 40% of votes belonging to those aged between 18-24 years while he got 28% of votes cast by those falling within the age bracket of 25-34 years.

Panayiotou’s election has taken place within a wider context of change in the political landscape of Cyprus. A total of six Cypriot MEPs including Panayiotou were elected, the others being from the Democratic Rally (DISY) which took two seats, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), National Popular Front (ELAM) and Democratic Party (DIKO).

The rise of Fidia Panayiotou is a sign that people are becoming less trusting of traditional politicians in general and that the European Parliament needs new voices – especially young voices. His accomplishments demonstrate how social media influencers may utilize their platforms to both influence and become active in politics as well as in the public sphere.

Panayiotou’s election ushers in a new era in Cypriot and European politics, where digital power and youthfulness can shake up the foundations of conventional political structures. As Panayiotou starts his work at the European Parliament, it will be interesting to see what influence his unconventional background and unique perspective will have on European policy making.

One thing is clear: a change has come to the political situation, with Fidia Panayiotou’s election being a symbol of transformation.