Fidias: YouTube star elected as Cyprus MEP, who is he and what does he stand for?

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  • Fidias Panayiotou was elected as an MEP in Cyprus.
  • He had never voted before and stood as an independent.
  • His popularity has been attributed with increasing voter turnout.
  • Fidias was a “bulwark” to rise of the far-right party in Cyprus.

A YouTuber walks into the European Parliament and takes his seat in the chamber.

It might sound like the start of a prank video, or a modern twist on an old joke, but it is about to become a reality for Cyprus star Fidias Panayiotou.

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Not since Mr Smith was sent to Washington 85 years ago has a more unprepared figure entered the cauldron of the political sphere. The 24-year-old, who has described his election as an MEP as a “miracle”, was voted in as an independent at the recent elections on the continent. 

The YouTube star, who goes by Fidias on the platform and has 2.62m subscribers, came third in the EU elections in his home nation of Cyprus. He gained a whopping 19.4% of the vote and he actually acted as a bulwark against the rising tide of the far-right, which made massive gains Europe-wide in the votes. 

Panagiotis Tsangaris, journalist and political analyst at DigitalTree, told Euractiv that if it “wasn’t for Fidias, we would have probably seen ELAM (the far-right party) at 20%”. Official data from Cyprus showed that the YouTuber attracted substantial support in rural villages.

Here’s all you need to know: 

Why did Fidias stand for election? 

The YouTube star has no previous political experience and admitted to having never previously voted. But Politico reported at the start of June that he decided to rub because he can’t abide the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels. 

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He announced his candidacy earlier this year and submitted the paperwork together with his father, who is a priest, in April. Fidias explained: “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 moulds. Because I want you to know that I have no party interests to serve.”

He also stated at the time his goal was not to get elected but to inspire young people to get interested in politics. 

YouTube star Fidias has been elected as an MEP. Photos by Fidias via YouTubeYouTube star Fidias has been elected as an MEP. Photos by Fidias via YouTube
YouTube star Fidias has been elected as an MEP. Photos by Fidias via YouTube | Fidias via YouTube

How has he reacted to being elected? 

Following his surprise election, Fidias told state broadcaster CyBC that it was a “shock” and described it as a “miracle”, BBC News reports. He added: “The parties should take it as a warning that they must modernise and listen to the people."

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Celebrating his win in the island’s capital Nicosia, he said: “We are writing history. Not just in Cyprus, but internationally."

Turnout was up in the Cyprus EU-elections, with just under 59% of eligible voters taking part. But this was an increase on the 45% turnout in 2019 and analysts have attributed the rise in part to the "Fidias factor".

Fidias campaigned with no specific political agenda, but said that if he could learn to be a YouTuber, he could learn how to be an MEP. He will certainly be one to watch throughout the duration of the next European parliament. 

So, who is Fidias? 

Fidias Panayiotou, best known by his online moniker Fidias, is a 24-year-old influencer turned unlikely politician. But if you have read this far in the story, you already knew that. 

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The Cypriot star started posting videos on YouTube in 2019 but it wasn’t until he began his mission to attempt to hug Tesla/ SpaceX/ Twitter owner Elon Musk in 2022 that his popularity exploded. 

He has amassed over 2.6m subscribers on YouTube and is known for prank content, as well as Mr Beast-esque challenge videos. The thumbnails of his videos also echo the style used by the world’s most famous YouTuber. 

In 2023, Fidias was forced to apologise after posting a video showing him dodging train fares and a breakfast bill in a five star luxury hotel in Japan. The clip racked up millions of views but proved controversial. 

Screenshot from a Fidias video. Photo Fidias via YouTubeScreenshot from a Fidias video. Photo Fidias via YouTube
Screenshot from a Fidias video. Photo Fidias via YouTube | Fidias via YouTube

What are Fidias’ videos like? 

In the name of journalism, I turned to YouTube and tried out some of Fidias’ videos to see what his deal was like. Going in, I wasn’t even sure what language the clips would be in and if I’d have to require subtitles to follow the action, I was also a bit wary as the fast-paced editing of MrBeast’s content is not my cup of tea at all. 

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But I did try to be as open-minded as possible, fair is fair after all. The first video that came up when I searched his name on YouTube was one called “I spent 100 million in the cheapest country” and not going to lie, that did set some alarm bells ringing in my brain. 

Thankfully the “cheapest country” turned out to be Vietnam and not Sudan or Congo or another of the world’s most deprived nations. The video starts out in irreverent but charming fashion as Fidias spends 2 million (Vietnamese dong I assume, they only refer to it as “unit of currency”) buying fish to “save them” before travelling to the beach and returning them to the ocean. 

Hijinxs and adventures ensue, including buying a bunch of stuff in a supermarket - and giving a handful of money to the cashier. At 10 minutes long, it was not a mega departure from the kind of travel show that exists on the netherworld that is terrestrial TV - albeit it does fly quite close to poverty tourism and in the the cost-of-living crisis it's a bit gauche seeing people send big chunks of money just for the sake of it. 

Next up was “13 years old kid builds his own log cabin” which is a sort of travel story about exactly what the title suggested it would be. He meets up with a young fan called Samson somewhere in America, who does not go to school and is building his own log cabin. 

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It reminded me a bit of Grand Design/ Amazing Spaces, except aimed at a younger audience. Not sure what George Clarke would make of the results. 

Neither video really gives a hint of what kind of politician Fidias would be. Except the fact he is a vegetarian and wanted to save fishes in Vietnam - so perhaps he’ll be pro-environmental policies. 

Have you - or your kids - ever come across Fidias’ videos on YouTube before? Let us know what you think. And if you haven’t you can find links to the Spend 100 million and Kid builds cabin here.

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