| 21 June 2021, Monday | النسخة العربية

Stung by graft and corruption, Cyprus voters elect new parliament

On Sunday, Cyprus elects a new parliament in a process that will reveal a decrease in support for the main political political parties and a large abstention rate for voters wrathful of corruption.

In a vote which will not likely produce the absolute majority as it has not been the result for decades, more than ten political parties or groups are looking for seats. All five years, elections are held.

At 0,400 GMT polling stations were opened with little more than 558,000 votes and at 1500 GMT they were closed. Nine mobile units were operating, in addition to 1,150 polling stations, to support COVID-19 voters, election officials said.

Cyprus – divided among its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations but whose government controls the Greek Cypriot side – has an executive system of government. The poll is a test run for allegiances which may be formed ahead of presidential elections scheduled in 2023.

President Nicos Anastasiades of the right-wing Democratic Rally party is in his second-five year term.

Opinion polls suggest smaller parties are likely to benefit from repeated scandals in recent years, eroding the dominance of Anastasiades’s party and the Communist AKEL, the other traditional mainstay of Cypriot politics.

“A big part of voters are fully disappointed with mainstream parties,” said political analyst Christophoros Christophorou.

The present administration has been under fire for championing a lucrative cash-for-passports scheme it had to abandon amid allegations of corruption in November 2020. 

A presidential commissioner was placed under investigation last week for discrepancies in his high school and university diplomas. His high-paying state job overseeing volunteer work was created at the height of the 2013 financial crisis, which saw thousands lose their bank savings and triggered an EU bailout.

Surveys show that from 2016, when the far right fringing ELAM Party elected two MPs to the parliament, its support was almost doubled. Likewise, the Greens Party is prepared to take over a diverse group, especially of young candidates.

However, abstention could be a key feature of the election on Sunday. It was 33.3 percent high in 2016.

“The corruption issue is beneficial to the small parties and also feeds abstention rates,” said Christophorou.