Cyprus parliamentary elections: The microcosmos of Europe?

A low turnout, less votes for big parties, far-right in the parliament. Looks like that Cyprus parliamentary vote was a microcosm of what is happening almost everywhere. What do you read out of those results, what do they mean for Cyprus? Read few comments.

George KyrisLecturer in International and European Politics, University of Birmingham

In some respects, Cyprus reflects wider trends in Europe. For example, the low turnout- which is the biggest and most unpleasant surprise of these elections- reminds us of similar public apathy in other European countries too. Similarly, the fragmentation of the political system with a record-breaking number of parties entering the parliament, including extremists like ELAM is similar to what we have seen in other countries throughout Europe. Yet, Cyprus is different and unique at the same point. For example, the centre-right managed to maintain its leading position, albeit with losses, despite governing the country during the devastating peak of the economic crisis in 2013. This is quite unlike other European experience, like in Greece or Spain, where similar parties have been seriously ‘punished’ by the electorate.

Alexandros Apostolides, Chairperson, Assistant Professor, Economic History, European University of Cyprus

A low turnout: This was a surprise. Ever since the not voting was decriminalized voter turnout was falling but it felt like much more of a statement of the electorate against the whole system

Less votes for big parties: This is quite shocking since just before the elections the larger party (AKEL the socialist / communist party, and DYSI the christian democrat party) agreed to raise the bar of entry into parliament from 1.8% to 3.6%. It is clear that both the low turn out and this move was a boomerang that hurt the major parties, who saw their supporters staying away or voting for smaller parties to punish then for a range of perceived failures in the economy and in corruption. The big winner of the night was DHKO, the classic kingmaker party of Cyprus, which managed to maintain its power while having a scandal with its former mayor of Pafos and the other new parties being similar in key issues like the Cyprus problem. The combination of the large two parties at 56% is the lowest ever: thisspells trouble for the president in two fronts:
1) The tactical alliance of DHSI (party in power) + DIKO is not enough to secure passing of bills on the economy
2) The only two parties that are in favor of current negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem (AKEL / DYSI) are in opposition to anything else and not hold a smaller part of the population

Far-right in the parliament  A shock to Cyprus as it is not the far right only but also people who are relatives with former right wing paramilitary groups that existed pre 1974 also wining preference in traditional parties. In addition EDEK, Alliance, Solidarity and Greens (!?) also have a nationalistic agenda and are against current efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

It makes Cyprus parliament pretty much ungovernable. It is less of a problem than it sounds, since the system is presidential rather than parliamentary.The president has tough choices: abandon key economic reforms and build a coalition than might damage efforts for the Cyprus problem or go full speed ahead to solve the Cyprus problem with a minority government. It probably spells the end of the national council – a informal body that, coordinated Cyprus problem policy, and Neo Nazi ELAM must be now invited.

 

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