Cyprus

I - Political context

Political change
I.1
What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Cyprus? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?

The impact of the financial crisis on Cyprus was the shift of the public’s and politicians’ attention from the ‘Cyprus dispute’ [1] to the economic condition and the public finance of the country. Cyprus ‘experienced’ three elections during this very unstable period: One presidential election in 2008, one parliamentary in 2011 and one presidential in February 2013 – all of them scheduled to take place in the respective dates.

The governmental system of Cyprus is presidential democracy. The executive power is exercised by the President and the Vice-President of the Republic,[2] as well as the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus, as provided in Art. 46 and 54 of the Constitution.[3] The legislative power is vested in the House of Representatives and is exercised by the House of Parliament (or House of Representatives) in accordance with Art. 61 of the Constitution of the Republic.[4] The Communal Chambers may also have legislative powers with regard to specific matters, as stipulated in Art. 87 of the Constitution of the Republic.[5]

In Cyprus, there are two different types of elections, which take place every five years. The one is the ‘presidential election’ through which the President of the Republic, head of the state and of the government, is elected directly from the people of Cyprus. Amongst his other powers, the President of the Republic appoints (and dismisses) the members of the Council of Ministers of the Republic (thus forming the government) as well as the independent state officials and judges of the Supreme Court and he has the right to veto any draft bills from becoming laws of the Republic. President Christofias of the AKEL party (adjacent to the left political ideology) won the presidential elections of 2008, while the Pro European and liberal conservative party DESI (Democratic Rally) and its president Nicos Anastasiades won the presidential elections of 2013, right before the signing of the ‘Loan Agreement’. Despite the ‘left’ parties’ pleas, no referendum has, so far, taken place, with reference to the crisis. The parliamentary (legislative) elections also take place every 5 years – with the last one taking place in May 2011. Among the many responsibilities of the Parliament figure the amendment of the Constitution, the enactment of legislation and the parliamentary scrutiny and control.[6] The House of Parliaments further influences the formulation of the economic and the financial policy of the Republic and is responsible for the investiture of the President of the Republic.[7]

In the 2011 Parliament elections the Democratic Rally (DISY) party (adjacent to the conservative political ideology) concentrated 34,28 % of the votes and won the elections. AKEL party was allocated 19 seats in the parliament, as opposed to the 20 of DISY, whereas DIKO (the Democratic Party, adjacent to the liberal political ideology) received 9 seats, EDEK 5 seats, the European party 2 seats and the Ecological Party 1 seat.[8] AKEL and DIKO formed a coalition government. The coalition collapsed in August 2011 following policy disagreements, leaving AKEL in a minority government.[9]

[1] The ‘Cyprus dispute’ refers to the ongoing conflict between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, over the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus.

[2] The position is currently vacant as it is reserved for a Turkish Cypriot.

[3] Article 46 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus reads as: “The executive power is ensured by the President and the Vice-President of the Republic.

The President and the Vice-President of the Republic in order to ensure the executive power shall have a Council of Ministers composed of seven Greek Ministers and three Turkish Ministers. The Ministers shall be designated respectively by the President and the Vice-President of the Republic who shall appoint them by an instrument signed by them both. The Ministers may be chosen from outside the House of Representatives.[…]

The Council of Ministers shall exercise executive power as in Article 54 provided.[…]”

Art. 54 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus reads as: “Subject to the executive power expressly reserved, under Articles 47, 48 and 49, to the President and the Vice-President of the Republic, acting either separately or conjointly, the Council of Ministers shall exercise executive power in all other matters other than those which, under the express provisions of this Constitution, are within the competence of a Communal Chamber, including the following:

(a) the general direction and control of the government of the Republic and the direction of general policy;

(b) foreign affairs as in Article 50 set out;

(c) defence and security, including questions thereof as in Article 50 set out;

(d) the co-ordination and supervision of all public services;

(e) the supervision and disposition of property belonging to the Republic in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and the law;

(f) consideration of Bills to be introduced to the House of Representatives by a Minister;

(g) making of any order or regulation for the carrying into effect of any law as provided by such law;

(h) consideration of the Budget of the Republic to be introduced to the House of Representatives.

 (translation from: http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf)

[4] Article 61 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus reads as: The legislative power of the Republic shall be exercised by the House of Representatives in all matters except those expressly reserved to the Communal Chambers under this Constitution.” (translation from: http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf)

[5] Art. 87 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus reads as: “1. The Communal Chambers shall, in relation to their respective Community, have competence to exercise within the limits of thisConstitution and subject to paragraph 3 of this Article, legislative power solely with regard to the following matters: (a) all religious matters;(b) all educational, cultural and teaching matters;(c) personal status; (d) the composition and instances (βαθμούςδικαιοδοσίας – dereceleri) of courts dealing with civil disputes relating to personal status and to religious matters; (e) in matters where the interests and institutions are of purely communal nature such as charitable and sporting foundations, bodies and associations created for the purpose of promoting the well-being of their respective Community; (f) imposition of personal taxes and fees on members of their respective Community in order to provide for their respective needs and for the needs of bodies and institutions under their control as in Article 88 provided; (g) in matters where subsidiary legislation in the form of regulations or bye-laws within the framework of the laws relating to municipalities will be necessary to enable a Communal Chamber to promote the aims pursued by municipalities composed solely of members of its respective Community; (h) in matters relating to the exercise of the authority of control of producers’ and consumers’ co-operatives and credit establishments and of supervision in their functions of municipalities consisting solely of their respective Community, vested in them by this Constitution: Provided that (i) any communal law, regulation, bye-law or decision made or taken by a Communal Chamber under this sub-paragraph (h) shall directly or indirectly be contrary to or inconsistent with any by which producers’ and consumers’ co-operatives and credit establishments are governed or to which the municipalities subject, (ii) nothing in paragraph (i) of this proviso contained shall be construed as enabling the House of Representatives to legislate on any matter relating to the exercise of the authority vested in Communal Chamber under this sub-paragraph (h): (i) in such other matters as are expressly provided by this Constitution. (translation from: http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf)

 

[6] From the official website of the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus: http://www.parliament.cy/easyconsole.cfm/id/146/lang/en/

[7] Ibid.

[8] See also: http://www.nsd.uib.no/european_election_database/country/cyprus/

[9] http://thecommonwealth.org/our-member-countries/cyprus/constitution-politics