Cyprus Parliamentary Elections of May 21, 2006
by Andreas Theophanous, Professor of Political Economy and Director General of the Research Center - Intercollege
In presidential systems such as in Cyprus, parliamentary elections offer voters the opportunity to express any disaffection they may feel toward the government (to the extent of course that it exists). In this context the elections of May 21 were an exception as voters chose to send other messages. Inevitably the electorate and the overall political climate is still influenced by the political fall out of the referenda on the proposed UN settlement two years ago. This was the major reason which led to the overall strengthening of the government coalition. What was even more important is that the leftist AKEL, the strongest party of the government coalition, lost 3,5% of its support while the other two parties of the coalition DEKO and EDEK came out significantly strengthened. The reason is again the Cyprus issue: DEKO and EDEK appear to have a more assertive policy than AKEL.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Rally, DESY, which had supported the Annan Plan lost 3,7% of its support even though it had engaged in a concerted effort to reverse its position in relation to the Cyprus problem. And what is even most notable is that the only party which had unconditionally supported the Annan Plan, the United Democrats, failed to enter parliament – as they received 1,6% of vote, 0,2% short of the necessary 1,8% required to secure a seat in parliament. In the 2001 elections the United Democrats had received 2,6% which allowed them representation in parliament.
In contrast the performance of the newly established European Party was notable: 5,7% and three seats in the parliament. Although this party positions itself in the opposition, its reason d’etre is its policy in relation to the Cyprus problem, a policy advocating a “European solution” to the issue.
In addition to the Cyprus problem there were other messages that may be worth noting. This has been evident of course even before the elections as preferences were revealed in various ways including the polls. Cypriots have greater expectations from political life. And certainly more sophistication is required by those seeking to represent them.
But again – while there is a demand for modernization and rejuvenation it seems that the attachment to issues revolving around the Cyprus problem remains strong and is likely to stay that way in the foreseeable future.
Research Center - Intercollege
Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved