22/05/2006 - Results
The ruling coalition emerged victorious from the general elections that took place on 21st May; These were the first since the failure of the referendum on 24th April 2004 on the peace plan proposed by the un with a view to reunifying the island after thirty years of division and unfinished negotiations between the greek and turkish communities. The country's leading party, the progressive workers' party (AKEL) won 31.16% of the vote (- 3.6 points in comparison with the previous election on 27th May 2001) taking 18 seats (-2). It took the lead over the main liberal opposition party, the democratic assembly (disy), that took 30.33% of the vote (- 3.7 points) also with 18 seats (-1). But the true victor of these general elections is the democratic party, a formation led by the president of the republic and head of government (in Cyprus the president of the republic also bears the title and functions of head of government), Tassos Papadopoulos, which was the only party to improve its score in comparison with the previous elections. he won 17.91% of the vote (+ 3.1 points) taking 11 seats.
The united democrats (EDI), a party in favour of the reunification of the island and which defended the "yes" vote in the referendum on the un peace plan on 24th April 2004 and whose lists included the turkish cypriot poetess neshe yashin, recorded a decline leading to the loss of its only seat in parliament. "We admit that cypriot society has not accepted our message and yet we are at peace with our conscience for having led an honourable, patriotic combat", declared the united democrat chairman, Michalis Papapetrou who also announced his resignation.
In all five parties comprising the government coalition –the progressive workers' party, the democratic party, the social democrat movement-centre union (EDEK), the ecologist and environmentalist movement-green party (KEP) and the european party (EK) – won 65.66% of the vote and thirty-eight of the fifty-six seats in the chamber of representatives, the only chamber in parliament.
The participation rate rose to 89.02% (445,915 voters) which was slightly down by 1.5 points on the island where it is obligatory to vote but where no abstainer has been punished in the last fifteen years for not having accomplished his civic duty.
"These elections must show that the greek-cypriot people stands firm in its opposition to the un peace plan", maintained the president of the republic and head of government just a few weeks ago. "The international community hoped to find the sign of growing support for Kofi Annan's plan in these general elections but we have had to disappoint them", added Tassos Papadopoulos who seems to have won his wager since the political forces against the un peace plan have emerged victorious from the election and the rise of the democratic party that was the spearhead of the "no" campaign in the referendum on 24th April 2004 comprises the approval of its policy to oppose the un peace plan; "this should help the president of the republic's position", says tim potier, professor of international law at the intercollege in Nicosia. Cypriot voters did not belie the polls which all showed that half of them wanted to live separately from the turkish cypriots whilst two thirds of them had said they were in favour of reunification just two years ago. Half of the greek cypriots (50%) said they were against the re-initiation of dialogue between the island's two communities on the basis of the un peace plan.
"This is a second referendum. Tassos Papadopoulos can interpret it as a confirmation of his policy and continue his hard line", maintains James Ker-Lindsay, professor at the Kingston university of London. "It is a justification of Tassos Papadopoulos's policy which aims to go beyond the un plan and obtain a maximum of concessions from Turkey on its road to joining the european union", stresses Hubert Faustmann, professor of international relations at the intercollege of Nicosia.
When interviewed on the possible changes to his policy after the general elections Tassos Papadopoulos said that he saw "no reason for the government to change its position on the issue of reunification. The policy on the part of the greek cypriots is clear and correct. I do not see why it should be changed", he maintained. "In the near future we shall have to face our greatest challenge together and fight for our objective, and that is a fully functional, viable solution", declared the president of the republic on the announcement of the results. "The government, which emerges strengthened by these results, will continue to apply its entire programme", he added.
Two days before the elections the european commissioner for enlargement, Olli Rehn called on the international community to re-initiate the process to reunify the island. "We should start to work more actively and this applies particularly to the un in taking up negotiations for a global agreement. The next weeks and months will be very important. We have a certain amount of opportunities this spring and summer and we should use them", stressed Olli Rehn. "We have agreed that next summer, just before Turkey's evaluation by the european commission in October and before the turkish general elections planned for autumn 2007 will be a good period to take initiatives", maintained the president of the chamber of representatives and secretary general of the progressive workers' party, Demetris Christofias, after he had met in Brussels with the vice president of the european commission, Margot Wallström and Olli Rehn.
Negotiations on the country's future are in deadlock and these elections can only be but disappointment for the supporters of the reunification of the two parts of the island. At the end of February last Tassos Papadopoulos met with un secretary general Kofi Annan but the two men were reserved after their interview saying that any re-initiation of negotiations to reunify Cyprus had to be founded on a "carefully prepared basis". During the entire electoral campaign the president of the republic who had set himself the aim of reunifying his country by a "just, viable and functional" solution when he was elected as head of state on 16th February 2003 did however repeat that he was prepared to start new peace negotiations after the election. After words the international community now expects action on his part as well as on the part of mehmet ali talat, president of the turkish republic of northern Cyprus (a state that is only acknowledged internationally by Turkey).
The new cypriot parliament will meet on 1st June next.
Results of the general elections on 21st May in Cyprus
Participation rate: 89.02% (it is obligatory to vote in Cyprus)
Source: cypriot electoral commission