Politics of Cyprus

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politics and government of

The Republic of Cyprus is a unitary presidential representative republic, whereby the President of Cyprus is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Cyprus has been a divided island since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.[1] Since then, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus has controlled the south two-thirds, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognized by Turkey, the northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the sole internationally recognized authority on the island (as well as the United Kingdom being internationally recognized with respect to the SBAs), though in practice its power extends only to the government-controlled area.

Cyprus operates under a multi-party system, with communist AKEL and right-leaning Democratic Rally in the forefront. Centrist DIKO and lesser parties often form a coalition with the President's party and are allotted a number of ministries.

United Cyprus

The 1960 Cypriot Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, for example, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios III, and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, Dr Fazıl Küçük, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.[2]

The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remained vacant, while the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber was abolished. The responsibilities of the chamber were transferred to the newfounded Ministry of Education.[3]

By 1967, when a military junta had seized power in Greece, the political impetus for enosis had faded, partly as a result of the non-aligned foreign policy of Cypriot President Makarios. Enosis remained an ideological goal, despite being pushed significantly further down the political agenda. Dissatisfaction in Greece with Makarios convinced the Greek colonels to sponsor the 1974 coup in Nicosia.

Turkey responded by launching a military operation on Cyprus in a move not approved by the other two international guarantor powers, Greece and the United Kingdom, claiming that this was for the protection of the Turkish minority from Greek militias. The invasion is called "Cyprus Peace Operation" by the Turkish side. Turkish forces captured the northern part of the island. Many thousands of others, from both sides, left the island entirely. In addition to many of the Greek Cypriot refugees (a third of the population), many Turkish Cypriots also moved to the UK.

Subsequently, the Turkish Cypriots established their own separatist institutions with a popularly elected de facto President and a Prime Minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an action opposed by the United Nations Security Council. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections.[4]

Division of Cyprus

The capital Nicosia remains divided since 1973. The UN buffer zone separates the two sectors.

In 1974, following a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 and executed by the Cypriot National Guard the invasion of troops from Turkey (citing its authority as one of the three guarantor powers established by the Constitution), the Turkish Cypriots formally set up their own institutions with a popularly-elected president and a Prime Minister, responsible to the National Assembly, exercising joint executive powers. Cyprus has been divided, de facto, into the Greek Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-occupied northern third. The Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus, that controls the southern two-thirds of the island. Aside from Turkey, all foreign governments and the United Nations recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.

Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriot administration of the northern part of the island, do not accept the Republic's rule over the whole island and refer to it not by its international name, but as the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus". Its territory, a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and whose status remains disputed, extends over the northern third of the island.

The north proclaimed its independence in 1975. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", which has never been recognized by any country except Turkey.[5] In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections—an arrangement recognized only by Turkey. For information pertaining to this, see Politics of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) granted it observer member status under the name of "Turkish Cypriot State".

Political conditions

Ministry of Commerce Industry and Tourism

The division of Cyprus has remained an intractable political problem plaguing relations between Greece and Turkey, and drawing in NATO, of which both Greece and Turkey are members, and latterly the European Union, which has admitted Greece and Cyprus and which Turkey has been seeking to join for over twenty years.

The most recent developments on the island have included the reopening of the border between the two sides, and the failure of an attempt to reunify the island under the terms of a United Nations-sponsored initiative guided by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

None of the Greek Cypriot parties has been able to elect a president by itself or dominate the 56-seat House of Representatives. The 165,000 Greek Cypriot refugees are also a potent political force, along with the independent Orthodox Church of Cyprus, which has some influence in temporal as well as ecclesiastical matters.

The working of the Cypriot state was fraught with difficulty from the very early days after independence in 1960, and intercommunal tension and occasionally violence was a feature of the first decade of Cypriot independence. In 1963, the Cypriot president, Makarios, proposed 13 amendments to the Constitution in order to “remove obstacles to the smooth functioning and development of the state.” This was done with the encouragement of the British High Commissioner in Cyprus, who considered the amendments “a reasonable basis for discussion.”[6] Violence erupted between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in December 1963 and by the following year the United Nations agreed to undertake peacekeeping operations (UNFICYP).

UN-sponsored negotiations to develop institutional arrangements acceptable to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities began in 1968; several sets of negotiations and other initiatives followed.

After the 1974 invasion following a Greek junta-based coup attempt, Makarios secured international recognition of his Greek Cypriot government as the sole legal authority on Cyprus, which has proved to be a very significant strategic advantage for the Greek Cypriots in the decades since. Negotiations continued in the years after 1974 with varying degrees of regularity and success, but none resulted in a full reunification. On 15 November 1983 the Turkish Cypriot North declared independence and the formation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has been recognized only by Turkey.[7] Both sides publicly call for the resolution of intercommunal differences and creation of a new federal system of government.

Following the 1998 presidential election, Klerides tried to form a government of national unity, by including six ministers from Klerides' Democratic Rally party, two ministers from the socialist EDEK, three from the Democratic Party (who broke ranks with party leader Spyros Kyprianou) and one from the United Democrats. However, a national unity government was not achieved due to the leftist AKEL and centrist Democratic Party rejecting the offer, preferring to remain opposition parties.

Reunification, the Annan Plan and EU entry

The results of early negotiations between the Greek and Turkish politicians resulted in a broad agreement in principle to reunification as a bicameral, bi-zonal federation with territory allocated to the Greek and Turkish communities within a united island. However, agreement was never reached on the finer details, and the two sides often met deadlock over the following points, among others:

The Greek side:

The Turkish side:

The continued difficulties in finding a settlement presented a potential obstacle to Cypriot entry to the European Union, for which the government had applied in 1997. UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders, Glafkos Klerides and Rauf Denktaş, continued intensively in 2002, but without resolution. In December 2002, the EU formally invited Cyprus to join in 2004, insisting that EU membership would apply to the whole island and hoping that it would provide a significant enticement for reunification resulting from the outcome of ongoing talks. However, weeks before the UN deadline, Klerides was defeated in presidential elections by centre candidate Tassos Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos had a reputation as a hard-liner on reunification and based his stance on international law and human rights. By mid-March, the UN declared that the talks had failed.

A United Nations plan sponsored by Secretary-General Kofi Annan was announced on 31 March 2004, based on what progress had been made during the talks in Switzerland and fleshed out by the UN, was put for the first time to civilians on both sides in separate referendums on 24 April 2004. The Greek side overwhelmingly rejected the Annan Plan, and the Turkish side voted in favour.

Communal federalists seem to be supportive of bi-zonality in its strongest

form even at the expense of serious limitations on individual rights. Strong bizonality requires a minimal effort for the territorial coexistence of the Cypriot communities, a feature especially important for the Turkish-Cypriot community to form a clear majority in its constituent state. Thus, limiting the number of Greek-Cypriots in the Turkish-Cypriot constituent unit, and preventing them from using their political rights in the north, appears to be a necessary territorial mechanism that would secure bi-zonality.[8]

In May 2004, Cyprus entered the EU, still divided,[9] although in practice membership only applies to the southern part of the island which is in the control of the Republic of Cyprus. In acknowledgment of the Turkish Cypriot community's support for reunification, however, the EU made it clear that trade concessions would be reached to stimulate economic growth in the north, and remains committed to reunification under acceptable terms. Though some trade restrictions were lifted on the north to alleviate economic isolation for the Turkish Cypriots, further negotiations have not been a priority. There is now a focus on convincing Turkey to recognise the government of Cyprus, a requirement for Turkish admission advocated most strongly by Cyprus and France.


The 16 August 1960 constitution envisioned power sharing between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Efforts to amends the constitution sparked the intercommunal strife in 1963. This constitution is still in force, though there is no Turkish Cypriot presence in the Cypriot government.

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Nicos Anastasiades Democratic Rally 28 February 2013

The president, elected by popular vote for a five-year term, is both the chief of state and head of government; post of vice president is currently vacant; under the 1960 constitution, the post is reserved for a Turkish Cypriot. The Council of Ministers is appointed jointly by the president and vice president.

Currently there are eleven ministries:

  1. Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment. Minister: Nikos Cougiales
  2. Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Minister: Georgios Lakkotrypis
  3. Ministry of Communications and Works. Minister: Tasos Mitsopoulos
  4. Ministry of Defence. Minister: Fotis Fotiou
  5. Ministry of Education and Culture. Minister: Kyriakos Kenevezos
  6. Ministry of Finance. Christos Georgiades
  7. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister: Ioannis Kasoulidis
  8. Ministry of Health. Minister: Petros Petrides
  9. Ministry of the Interior. Minister: Socratis Hasikos
  10. Ministry of Justice and Public Order. Minister: Ionas Nikolaou
  11. Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance: Zeta Aimilianidou

Legislative branch

The House of Representatives (Vouli Antiprosópon/Temsilciler Meclisi) has 59 members elected for a five-year term: 56 Greek Cypriot members chosen by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Maronite, Roman Catholic and Armenian minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community, but are currently vacant.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Cyprus. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Cyprus.
 Summary of the 17-24 February 2013 Cypriot presidential election results
Candidate and nominating parties 1st round 2nd round
Votes % Votes %
Nicos Anastasiades - DISY 200,591 45.46 236,965 57.48
Stavros Malas - AKEL 118,755 26.91 175,267 42.52
Giorgos Lillikas - EDEK 109,996 24.93
Giorgos Charalambous - ELAM 3,899 0.88
Praxoula Antoniadou - EDI 2,678 0.61
Makaria-Andri Stylianou - Independent 1,898 0.43
Lakis Ioannou - LASOK 1,278 0.29
Solon Gregoriou - Independent 792 0.18
Kostas Kyriacou - Independent 722 0.16
Andreas Efstratiou - Independent 434 0.10
Loukas Stavrou - Independent 213 0.05
Valid votes 441,212 100.00 412,232 100.00
Blank votes 4,460 0.98 18,040 4.05
Invalid votes 7,826 1.73 14,737 3.31
Turnout (out of 545,491 registered votes) 453,498 83.14 445,009 81.58
Source: results.elections.moi.gov.cy (first round and second round)
 Summary of the 22 May 2016 House of Representatives of Cyprus election results
Party Vote Seats
Votes % ±pp Won +/−
Democratic Rally (Dimokratikos Sinagermos) 107,825 30.69 Decrease 3.66 18 Decrease 2
Progressive Party of Working People (Anorthotiko Komma Ergazomenou Laou) 90,204 25.67 Decrease 7.07 16 Decrease 3
Democratic Party (Dimokratiko Komma) 50,923 14.49 Decrease 1.25 9 Steady 0
Movement for Social Democracy (Kinima Sosialdimokraton) 21,732 6.18 Decrease 2.75 3 Decrease 2
Citizens' Alliance (Simmachia Politon) 21,114 6.01 New 3 Increase 3
Solidarity Movement (Kinima Allileggiis) 18,424 5.24 New 3 Increase 11
Ecological and Environmental Movement (Kinima Oikologon - Sinergasia Politon) 16,909 4.81 Increase 2.59 2 Increase 1
National Popular Front (Ethniko Laiko Metopo) 13,041 3.71 Increase 2.63 2 Increase 2
Animal Party Cyprus (Kinima gia ta zoa tis Kiprou) 4,088 1.16 New 0 Steady 0
People's Breath 3,072 0.87 New 0 Steady 0
Flag Social Movement 2,033 0.58 New 0 Steady 0
Union of Fighters for Justice 983 0.28 New 0 Steady 0
Independents 1,041 0.29 0
Reserved seats for minorities 3
Total 351,389 100.00 59
Valid votes 351,389 96.92 Increase 0.19
Invalid votes 7,675 2.12 Increase 0.04
Blank votes 3,478 0.96 Decrease 0.23
Voted/turnout 362,542 66.74 Decrease 11.96
Absenteeism 180,644 33.26 Increase 11.96
Registered voters 543,186
Source: results.elections.moi.gov.cy

Political pressure groups and leaders

  1. Cypriot Workers Union (Σ.Ε.Κ. Συνομοσπονδία Εργατών Κύπρου)
  2. Confederation of Revolutionary Labor Unions or Dev-Is
  3. Pan-Cyprian Labour Federation or PEO (Π.Ε.Ο. Παγκύπρια Εργατική Ομοσπονδία)
  4. Eleftheria Citizens Initiative (Πρωτοβουλία Πολιτών Ελευθερία)

Administrative divisions

6 districts; Famagusta (Ammochostos), Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol (Lemesos), Nicosia (Lefkosia), Paphos; note - occupied area's administrative divisions include Kyrenia, all but a small part of Famagusta (Ammochostos), and small parts of Lefkosia (Nicosia) and Larnaca.

Exclaves and enclaves

Cyprus has four exclaves, all in territory that belongs to the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. The first two are the villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymvou. Additionally there is the Dhekelia Power Station, which is divided by a British road into two parts. The northern part is an enclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea and therefore not an enclave although it has no territorial waters of its own.[10]

The UN buffer zone separating the territory controlled by the Turkish Cypriot administration from the rest of Cyprus runs up against Dhekelia and picks up again from its east side, off of Ayios Nikolaos (connected to the rest of Dhekelia by a thin land corridor). In that sense, the buffer zone turns the south-east corner of the island, the Paralimni area, into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

International organization participation

C, CCC, CE, EBRD, ECE, EPO, EU Member, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, International Development Association, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, NAM (member since 1961, observer after 2004), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

See also


  1. "Cyprus profile". BBC News. BBC News. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  2. "Politics of Cyprus". Cyprus Directory. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  3. "Politics of Cyprus". Chriseleni Villas. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  4. "Cyprus Overview". Appleton Company Services Limited. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  5. "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". Britannica Online. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  6. "All about Cyprus". Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Beijing. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  7. "Europe :: Cyprus" (PDF). CIA. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  8. Peristianis, Nicos; Vural, Yücel (January 2008). "Beyond ethno-nationalism: emerging trends in Cypriot politics after the Annan Plan". Nations & Nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 14 (1): 39–60. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8129.2008.00325.x. ISSN 1469-8129.
  9. "Cyprus". About.com. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  10. http://geosite.jankrogh.com/cyprus.htm

Further reading

  • James Ker-Lindsay and Hubert Faustmann (eds.) (2009). The Government and Politics of Cyprus. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-03911-096-4. 
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