How this YouTuber known for viral pranks won a seat in the European elections 2024

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jun 11, 2024 at 01:09 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Fidias Panayiotou, a YouTuber known for his viral pranks who openly admitted that he doesn’t quite understand how the European Union works, garnered 19.4 per cent of the vote in EU parliament elections in Cyprus. This gained the social media influencer a seat as an independent, undoubtedly making this his greatest prank ever.

Who is Fidias Panayiotou?

The 24-year-old YouTuber was born in the Cyprian village of Meniko in 2000. He has over 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube. Panayiotou is known for content such as “I Survived 5 Days With No Sleep,” “I Spent 100 Hours In The World’s Poorest Country,” “I Survived 10 Days Buried Alive,” and “I Spent $10,000 In The World’s Cheapest Country.” His claim to fame arose in 2019 from a mission to hug Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of the X (formerly Twitter) platform, which he eventually accomplished.

@fidias0

Knocking on millionaire’s doors until they let me use the bathroom

♬ original sound - Fidias - Fidias

In other words, Panayiotou hasn’t spent the past few years accumulating a whole lot of political experience.

In fact, Panayiotou didn’t run on any specific platform and admitted that he wasn’t even sure how the European Parliament worked. Yet, he reasoned that he couldn’t abide by the continued rule of “nerds” in Brussels, as initially reported by Politico.

Nevertheless, the MrBeast wannabe secured the third most votes of any candidate, beating out many of the traditional parties in the country. Running as an independent candidate, he even managed to finish ahead of the far-right party.

“Today is an important day, not only for Cyprus but possibly also for the entire world,” he told Cyprus Mail, claiming that it might be the first time a candidate was elected “without any relationship to a political party, using only social media.”

“This maybe means the world has reached a moment at which a new chapter in the book of democracy begins,” Panayiotou mused.

His victory is seen as a rejection of the political status quo and traditional parties in Cyprus.

Who voted for Fidias Panayiotou?

According to elections expert Yiannis Mavris, a large part of his coalition of voters were people who typically abstain from voting, submit blank ballots or spoil their ballots.

“More than a third of his voters came from there,” Mavris told Cyprus Mail.

Why is Fidias Panayiotou controversial?

The YouTuber stirred controversy last year by attempting to travel across India and Japan without paying, and instead begging for cash.

Indeed, Panayiotou’s specific brand of poverty or slum tourism has also caused an extreme backlash, with netizens accusing the influencer of exploiting the suffering of the poor for entertainment and turning people’s hardships into a spectacle for wealthier tourists.

Yet, all this didn’t seem to make him any less electable to his followers.

The European election in Cyprus was expected to see high levels of voter absenteeism, indicative of the disillusionment Cypriots feel toward the political system.

Panayiotou originally said that his goal was not to get elected, but to motivate young people to get involved in politics.

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