Nicosia.- (CNA) – The House of Representatives decided on Thursday to dissolve the present parliament and set Sunday May 22, 2011 as polling day, in accordance with the Constitution. It also decided that the first session of the new House will take place on Thursday, June 2. Furthermore, the House plenary approved on Thursday an amendment to the existing election legislation, according to which voting on polling day will be extended by an hour and a half, to end at 18:30 local time (15:30) instead of 17:00.
Parliamentary elections take place every five years in Cyprus, for the 56 seat House. This will be the 10th parliamentary poll since the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960. Cypriot nationals who live abroad will also be able to vote.
According to the 1960 Constitution, 50 deputies are elected to the House. In June 1985, the House by a unanimous decision increased this number to 80 (56 from the Greek Cypriot community and 24 from the Turkish Cypriot community by virtue of the Law of Necessity.
The Constitution stipulates that “the Greek community of Cyprus”, comprising Greek Cypriots, Latins, Armenians and Maronites, elects its own representatives to the House and “the Turkish community of Cyprus” its own deputies by a ratio of 70% to 30 %. The Turkish Cypriots withdrew unilaterally from Parliament in 1964 following intercommunal fighting and as part of their rebellion against the government.
Six political parties are currently represented to the House of Representatives: the leftwing AKEL which received 31.16% (18 seats), the rightwing Democratic Rally (DISI) with 30.33% (18 seats), the Democratic Party (DIKO) with 17.91% (11 seats), the Social Democrats Movement EDEK 8,91% (5 seats), the European Party (EVROKO) with 5.73% (3 seats) and the Ecologists with 1,95% (1 seat).
The President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian has called on voters to go to the polls in next month’s parliamentary elections, following recent surveys suggesting that the coming elections will be marked by high abstention.
”The parliamentary elections of May 22 take place at a time when Cyprus faces serious problems,” Garoyian said, addressing the last House plenary session before the elections, adding ”the Cyprus problem is in a particularly delicate and crucial phase and the consequences of the global financial crisis create new pressing problems to the Cypriot economy and the Cypriot people.”
”Abstaining from the elections means refraining from assuming responsibility. It means abolishing the most important right the citizens have,” he added.
Garoyian called on the young people to ”take the country’s future in their own hands,” noting that they have many options.
”There is the rewarding vote, the punishing vote, the rejecting vote; the applauding vote, the vote of support, the vote of criticism and the correcting vote. They will decide, but surely abstention is not a responsible option,” he added.
The House plenary adopted unanimously on Thursday a resolution on the Cyprus problem, calling on the European Parliament and the national parliaments of the EU member states to exert pressure on Ankara in order to contribute to efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem.
The resolution was adopted during the last plenary session ahead of May’s parliamentary elections.
In the resolution, the House states that the Turkish side is to be blamed for the lack of progress in the ongoing UN-led direct talks because the proposals it puts forward at the negotiating table are not in line with the agreed framework of the negotiations as provided by UN resolutions and decisions, international law and European principles.
MPs note the fact that no substantial progress has been made despite all the efforts made by the Greek Cypriot side.
The resolution stresses that the Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion and occupation, of violation of human rights and freedoms of the whole of the Cyprus people and violation of international and European law.
The MPs underline the need for a just and viable solution, based on UN resolutions, the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities providing for a bizonal bicommunal federation, EU law, a solution that will reunify all the people of Cyprus.