Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Politics of Cyprus

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the government-controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-Cypriot northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the internationally recognized authority; in practice, its power extends only to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas.

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 and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.

The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls, but since 1974, the Turkish seats in the House have been vacant. Originally, there were two Communal Chambers, but the Greek Cypriot Chamber was abolished in the 1960s.

Following the 1974 hostilities, 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. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (T.R.N.C.). In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections--an arrangement recognized only by Turkey.

Political conditions
In February 1998, Greek Cypriots narrowly re-elected Glafcos Clerides, a seasoned politician from the conservative Democratic Rally Party, as president of the Republic of Cyprus.

Following his re-election, Clerides formed a government of national unity, with open invitations for participation of all political parties. His cabinet includes six ministers from Clerides' Democratic Rally party, two ministers from the EDEK (socialist) party, three from the Democratic Party (who broke ranks with party leader Spyros Kyprianou) and one from the United Democrats. 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.

Turkish Cypriots held multi-party "parliamentary" elections in 1993, removing the long-ruling National Unity Party in favor of a coalition of the Democratic and Republican Turkish parties. However, in August 1996, a new coalition was formed between the two main rightist parties, the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party. The next "parliamentary" elections will take place in the fall of 1998. "T.R.N.C. President" Rauf Denktash won re-election in 1995 after an unprecedented second round of voting. He defeated the incumbent "Prime Minister," Dr. Dervis Eroglu.

UN-sponsored negotiations to develop institutional arrangements acceptable to both communities began in 1968; several sets of negotiations and other initiatives followed. Turkish Cypriots focus on bi-zonality, security guarantees, and political equality between the two communities. Greek Cypriots emphasize the rights of movement, property, settlement, and the return of territory. Turkish Cypriots favor a federation of two nearly autonomous societies living side by side with limited contact, while Greek Cypriots envision a more integrated structure.

The last face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the two communities, President Clerides and Mr. Denktash, took place when the two were invited in June 1997 by the UN Secretary General to engage again in face-to-face negotiations. The two leaders met July 9-13, 1997, in Troutbeck, New York, to resume discussions to resolve intercommunal strife and reunite the island. They met for a second round in Switzerland, August 11-15, 1997. The U.S. also brokered two direct meetings between the two leaders, including one meeting in September 1997 to discuss security issues and a second meeting in November 1997 under the auspices of U.S. Special Presidential Emissary Richard C. Holbrooke to review informally the core issues of a settlement agreement. International efforts to promote a settlement to the Cyprus dispute began again in earnest following the February 1998 presidential election.


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cyprus
conventional short form: Cyprus

Data code: CY

Government type: republic
note: a disaggregation of the two ethnic communities inhabiting the island began after the outbreak of communal strife in 1963; this separation was further solidified following the Turkish invasion in July 1974 following a Greek junta-based coup attempt, which gave the Turkish Cypriots de facto control in the north; Greek Cypriots control the only internationally recognized government; on 15 November 1983 Turkish Cypriot "President" Rauf DENKTASH declared independence and the formation of a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC), which has been recognized only by Turkey; both sides publicly call for the resolution of intercommunal differences and creation of a new federal system (Greek Cypriot position) or confederate system (Turkish Cypriot position) of government

Capital: Nicosia
note: the Turkish Cypriot area's capital is Lefkosa (Nicosia)

Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos; note - Turkish Cypriot area's administrative divisions include Kyrenia, all but a small part of Famagusta, and small parts of Lefkosa (Nicosia) and Larnaca

Independence: 16 August 1960 (from UK)
note: Turkish Cypriot area proclaimed self-rule on 13 February 1975 from Republic of Cyprus

National holiday: Independence Day, 1 October; note - Turkish Cypriot area celebrates 15 November as Independence Day

Constitution: 16 August 1960; negotiations to create the basis for a new or revised constitution to govern the island and to better relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been held intermittently; in 1975 Turkish Cypriots created their own constitution and governing bodies within the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus," which was renamed the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" in 1983; a new constitution for the Turkish Cypriot area passed by referendum on 5 May 1985

Legal system: based on common law, with civil law modifications

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Glafcos CLERIDES (since 28 February 1993); note - the president 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
head of government: President Glafcos CLERIDES (since 28 February 1993); note - the president 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
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed jointly by the president and vice president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 15 February 1998 (next to be held NA February 2003)
election results: Glafcos CLERIDES reelected president; percent of vote - Glafcos CLERIDES 50.8%, George IAKOVOU 49.2%
note: Rauf R. DENKTASH has been "president" of the Turkish Cypriot area since 13 February 1975 ("president" elected by popular vote for a five-year term); elections last held 15 and 22 April 1995 (next to be held NA April 2000); results - Rauf R. DENKTASH reelected president; pecent of vote - Rauf R. DENKTASH 62.5%, Dervis EROGLU 37.5%; Dervis EROGLU has been "prime minister" of the Turkish Cypriot area since 16 August 1996; there is a Council of Ministers (cabinet) in the Turkish Cypriot area

Legislative branch: unicameral - Greek Cypriot area: House of Representatives or Vouli Antiprosopon (80 seats; 56 assigned to the Greek Cypriots, 24 to Turkish Cypriots; note - only those assigned to Greek Cypriots are filled; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); Turkish Cypriot area: Assembly of the Republic or Cumhuriyet Meclisi (50 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Greek Cypriot area: last held 26 May 1996 (next to be held May 2001); Turkish Cypriot area: last held 6 December 1998 (next to be held December 2003)
election results: Greek Cypriot area: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - DISY 34.5%, AKEL (Communist) 33.0%, DIKO 16.4%, EDEK 8.1%, KED 3.7%, others 4.3%; seats by party - DISY 20, AKEL (Communist) 19, DIKO 10, EDEK 5, KED 2; Turkish Cypriot area: Assembly of the Republic - percent of vote by party - UBP 40.3%, DP 22.6%, TKP 15.4%, CTP 13.4%, UDP 4.6%, YBH 2.5%, BP 1.2%; seats by party - UBP 24, DP 13, TKP 7, CTP 6

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the Supreme Council of Judicature
note: there is also a Supreme Court in the Turkish Cypriot area

Political parties and leaders: Greek Cypriot area: Democratic Party or DIKO [Tassos Papadopoulos]; Democratic Rally or DISY [Nikos ANASTASIADHIS]; Ecologists [Yeoryios PERDHIKIS]; New Horizons [Nikolaos KOUTSOU, secretary general]; Restorative Party of the Working People or AKEL (Communist Party) [Dimitrios CHRISTOFIAS]; Movement of Social Democrats (formerly EDEK) [Yiannakis Omirou]; United Democrats Movement or EDI (formerly Free Democrats Movement or KED) [George VASSILIOU]; Turkish Cypriot area: Communal Liberation Party or TKP [Mustafa AKINCI]; Democratic Party or DP [Serdar DENKTASH]; National Birth Party or UDP [Enver EMIN]; National Unity Party or UBP [Dervis EROGLU]; Our Party or BP [Okyay SADIKOGLU]; Patriotic Unity Movement or YBH [Ozker OZGUR]; Republican Turkish Party or CTP [Mehmet ALI TALAT]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Confederation of Cypriot Workers or SEK (pro-West); Confederation of Revolutionary Labor Unions or Dev-Is; Federation of Turkish Cypriot Labor Unions or Turk-Sen; Pan-Cyprian Labor Federation or PEO (Communist controlled)

International organization participation: C, CCC, CE, EBRD, ECE, EPO, EU (applicant), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Erato KOZAKOU-MARCOULLIS
chancery: 2211 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462-5772
FAX: [1] (202) 483-6710
consulate(s) general: New York

note: representative of the Turkish Cypriot area in the US is Ahmet ERDENGIZ; office at 1667 K Street NW, Washington, DC; telephone [1] (202) 887-6198

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Donald K. BANDLER
embassy: corner of Metochiou and Ploutarchou Streets, Engomi, Nicosia
mailing address: P. O. Box 4536, FPO AE 09836
telephone: [357] 2277 6400
FAX: [357] 2278 0944

Flag description: white with a copper-colored silhouette of the island (the name Cyprus is derived from the Greek word for copper) above two green crossed olive branches in the center of the flag; the branches symbolize the hope for peace and reconciliation between the Greek and Turkish communities
note: the Turkish Cypriot flag has a horizontal red stripe at the top and bottom between which is a red crescent and red star on a white field

See also : Cyprus