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Nuisance YouTuber Elected to European Parliament

Fidias Panayiotou

Fidias Panayiotou, the Cypriot YouTuber notorious for his disruptive antics in Japan, has wormed his way into the European Parliament as an independent MEP. This is the same influencer who turned Japan into his personal playground last fall, dodging train fares and freeloading at hotels, all for the sake of content. 

Panayiotou’s successful election is both a symptom and a symbol of our times. Here is a man whose primary ambition seems to be courting controversy and accumulating followers, now entrusted with a role that demands respect, responsibility and a modicum of seriousness.

This farcical twist of fate forces us to confront the unsettling reality: our political arenas are no longer reserved for the competent or the principled, but have become stages for digital caricatures whose main skill is manipulating the fickle algorithms of online fame. 

Controversy in Japan

Panayiotou embarked on a shameless quest to travel across Japan without paying for public transport last November. Competing against three fellow YouTubers for a $10,000 prize, he documented his fare-dodging exploits for his 2 million-plus subscribers. 

One clip showed him hiding in a Shinkansen toilet to evade ticket inspectors, then faking illness when confronted. He repeated the trick on another train. The backlash was swift, with JR Kyushu launching an investigation and YouTube removing the video.

Another clip showed him sneaking into a hotel, posing as a guest to score a free breakfast. “I just (got) access to a five-star Japanese buffet. And we’re leaving the hotel without getting caught and without any problem,” he bragged to the camera.

His apology for these misdeeds was tepid at best, promising to “research cultures more.” Most saw this as a hollow gesture rather than genuine remorse.

Election Results

Panayiotou, who has no political experience or party affiliation, secured nearly 20% of the vote in the June 2024 Cypriot European Parliament elections, ranking third behind the Democratic Rally (DISY) party and the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). 

He announced his candidacy in January, confessing he had no idea about politics or the European Union, but claiming he was willing to 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 announced.

Members of the European Parliament are elected every five years. 

When FNN inquired about the disturbances in Japan with the European Parliament’s Secretariat, the response was: “We cannot comment on individual cases.” 

Direct Democracy or Direct Mockery?

In true influencer fashion, Panayiotou took to social media on June 5 to flaunt his salary and the additional benefits that come with his position as a Member of the European Parliament.

“I get €8,000 a month in my pocket,” he said. “In addition to that, every working day I come here in the parliament and sign in, I get another €350. Apart from that, I have €30.000 per month for the salaries of my team. Also, I can have an office in my country, and they give me €5.000 a month for that. I have another €4.000 a month to promote my work that I’m doing here in the parliament.”

Yet again, on June 9, Panayiotou invited his followers to decide which party or group he should join in the European Parliament, dubbing it a “direct democracy.” 

Panayiotou’s election is a sobering indicator of our times. His rise, fueled by social media clout rather than political acumen, highlights the erosion of genuine political discourse. The spectacle of his candidacy and subsequent victory raises unsettling questions about the future of governance in the age of the digital celebrity. 

In a world where clicks and likes overshadow competence and integrity, the line between reality and performative farce has never been blurrier.

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