CYPRUS PARLIAMENT SHAKEUP AFTER RECORD LOW VOTER TURNOUT

A record low turnout in Cyprus elections on Sunday (May 22) resulted in the biggest shakeup in the island’s parliamentary history following a three-year economic downturn and amid disillusion with the political establishment.

The ruling rightwing DISY party won with 30 per cent of the vote, but the polls also resulted in the most fractious assembly ever with the far-right National Popular Front (ELAM) entering parliament.

The main opposition party, the communist AKEL, garnered 25 per cent, a drop in support of seven per cent.

After what was seen as a protest vote against the two established parties and with the low turnout playing into the hands of smaller parties, an unprecedented eight parties will make up the new parliament.

Election officials gave a turnout of 67 per cent, with an abstention rate of one third, a record for Greek Cypriot parliamentary polls in which voting is in theory compulsory.

A total of 542,915 people were eligible to vote on Sunday, with a record 493 hopefuls standing for parliament.

ELAM’s entry into the 56-member Cypriot parliament, having won 3.7 per cent of the 360,000 votes cast, a result which is expected to give it two seats, echoes the wave of rightwing populism that has swept through Europe.

ELAM defends the Athens-inspired coup of 1974 that sought to unite the island with Greece and that triggered Turkey’s invasion of its northern third, ushering in a division that remains to this day.

Progress on UN-backed talks to reunify the island was not an election issue because both the main parties support reunification of the divided island under a federal roof.

The negotiations are at a crucial stage and Greek Cypriot leader Pres Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci must make painful compromises to reach a deal.

Cyprus has emerged from three years of economic slowdown after the government imposed harsh austerity measures in exchange for European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout.

In March this year, the euro group of finance ministers praised Nicosia for its successful exit from the bailout programme. The Cyprus economy is expected to grow by 2.2 per cent in 2016

Source: Nam News Network