Cyprus Government and Politics

State and politics

Cyprus Country Flag

Reference: Cyprus Flag Meaning

According to, the Republic of Cyprus is the only internationally recognized state and covers the entire island. The northern third of the island controlled by the Turkish military was declared unilaterally on November 15, 1983 as the Republic, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; this has only been recognized by Turkey. Despite several attempts by the UN, Cyprus’s two population groups have failed to negotiate a restoration of a common state.

Since 2004, the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the European Union. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of CY and its meanings of Cyprus.


The constitution adopted by Cyprus when the island became independent in 1960 was mainly based on British initiative and was ethnically based. All items in, for example, administration and defense would be distributed according to certain proportions: 70 percent for the Greek Cypriots and 30 percent for the Turkish Cypriots. The president should be Greek Cypriot and the vice president Turkish Cypriot. According to the Constitution, Cyprus is a republic with a multi-party system, an executive president and an elected parliament. Since 1974, however, Cyprus has been governed by two separate administrations. The Turkish Cypriots adopted their own provisional constitution in 1975. Formally, however, the President of the Republic of Cyprus is the entire head of Cyprus, and is currently elected by only Greek Cypriots every five years. The president is also the head of government. It is the Republic of Cyprus’s Head of State and Government who represents Cyprus in the EU.

It is compulsory for all citizens over the age of 18 to vote, but in recent times the risk of punishment has been reduced. This has led to declining turnout.

By a constitutional addition to the 1985 elections, Greek Cypriots expanded their seats in the national parliament from 35 to 59. Three of these are reserved for members representing the Maronite, Roman Catholic and Armenian minority, respectively. At the same time, the seats that were reserved for Turkish Cypriots were expanded but remained empty since 1963 from 15 to 24. In 1985, the Turkish Cypriots replaced their former provisional constitution with a new one, extending the seats in their parliament from 40 to 50. The president is elected in general elections for a period of five years. Members of Parliament are also elected for five years, but early elections have been made several times. See also the Cyprus issue.


The conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots has overshadowed the political contradictions that exist within the respective ethnic groups.

Politics of the Republic of Cyprus

The oldest party on the Greek Cypriot side is the Socialist Workers’ Progress Party (Anorthotikon Komma Ergazemenou Laou, AKEL). In the 2008 presidential election, AKEL’s candidate Dimitris Christofias won. He thus became prime minister in a coalition government with the middle party DIKO.

Christofia began negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side, but no common view on how to resolve the Cyprus conflict was reached. At the same time, the world economic crisis deteriorated the situation for Cyprus. In the 2011 parliamentary elections, AKEL received 32.7 percent of the vote, but the Liberal Conservative Party Democratic Assembly (Dimokratikos Sinagermos, DISY) increased its voting share sharply and received 34.3 percent of the vote, becoming the largest party in parliament. The party has taken a positive attitude towards reunification but is internally divided on the issue. The Nationalist Democratic Party (Dimokrikon Komma, DIKO) is a center-right party that in 2004 stood on the flip side in the referendum. DIKO became the third largest party in 2011. The Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK) also belonged to the major parties with 8.9 percent of the vote. Other parties that were mandated in Parliament included a green party and an ultra-nationalist party.

The President and Prime Minister Christofias declined before the 2013 presidential election to run for another term. The election, which was held in two rounds in February 2013, led to DISY’s candidate Nicos Anastasiades being elected new president with 57.5 percent of the vote in the second round. The turnout was just over 80 percent. Anastasiades, who advocated that Cyprus live up to the demands of the EU and the International Monetary Fund to gain access to a financial aid package, became a new Prime Minister in a coalition between DISY and DIKO.

The electoral movement ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections was marked by widespread dissatisfaction on the part of the electorate not only against the government but against all the established parties. The main reason for this was dissatisfaction with how the major parties acted during the banking and financial crisis of 2008-13. This was manifested in the fact that just over 30 percent of voters now abstained. All major parties lost voters. Several new parties reached the threshold of 3.6 percent and were given parliamentary seats. Among these were populist Simmachia Politon, national conservative and EU-critical Kinima Allileggiis, right-wing nationalist party Ethniko Laiko Metopo (ELAM), whose political program bears close resemblance to Greek Golden Dawn, as well as the Green PartyKinima Oikologon – Sinergasia Politon.

Parliamentary elections 2016

Party Percent Compared to 2011 Mandate Compared to 2011
Dimokratikos Synargermos (DISY) 30.7 +3.6 18 +2
Anorthotikon Komma Ergazomenou Laou (AKEL) 16.0 -7.0 16 -3
Democracy Comma (DIKO) 14.5 -1.3 9 ㊣ 0
Kinima Socialdemokraton (EDEK) 6.2 -2.7 3 -2
Simmachia Politon 3.0 * 6 *
Kinima Allileggiis 5.2 * 3 *
Kinima Oikologon – Sinergasia Politon 4.8 +2.6 2 +1
Ethniko Laiko Metopo (ELAM) 3.7 +2.6 2 +2

* The party did not participate in the 2011 elections.

The fact that several parties opposing a reunification, such as ELAM, Kinima Allileggi and Simmachia Politon, have strengthened their position in Parliament can further complicate this lengthy process. With the support of a majority of the parties in Parliament, the negotiation process with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus continued and political analysts felt that a solution was within reach.

However, DIKO left the government in 2016 with reference to the fact that it was considered that excessive concessions were made to Northern Cyprus. Negotiations were terminated definitively in 2017. Disagreement over how to implement land reclamation and relocation among those affected by the border demarcation between the two parts of Cyprus and ambiguity regarding the withdrawal of Turkish troops (about 35,000 men) stationed in Northern Cyprus was stated as main reasons for the collapse of the negotiations. The UN mediator, Norwegian Espen Barth Eide (born 1964), thus left his mission.

In the January 2018 presidential election, incumbent President Nicos Anastasiadis (born 1946) received 56 percent of the vote and was re-elected for a new five-year term. His counterpart was the independent Stavros Malas (born 1967), which was mainly supported by left-center parties. The turnout was about 73 percent, which was about 10 percent lower than in the previous election.

Key issues for Anastasiadis are new negotiations with the government of Northern Cyprus, improvements in the economic situation as well as Cyprus’s rights regarding gas extraction in the Mediterranean.

Politics in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

In the Turkish Cypriot Parliament, the Conservative National Unity Party (Ulusal Birlik Partisi, UBP) has long dominated politics. The party advocates close relations with Turkey and continued separate rule of Northern Cyprus. Dissatisfaction with UBP’s economic policy in the early 1990s led to an outbreak and formation of the Democratic Party (Democrat Partisi, DP). In the Cyprus issue and in relation to relations with Turkey, DP is on the same lines as UBP. The Republican Turkish Party (Cumhuriyetci T邦rk Partisi, CTP) is left-wing and has criticized UBP’s policies that it believes isolate Northern Cyprus. In 2007 the Party of Common Democracy (Toplumcu Demokratisi Partisi) was formed, TDP) by representatives of the peace and democracy movement. Still some smaller parties are active in the Turkish Cypriot part of Cyprus.

At the beginning of the 1990s, CTP succeeded in several elections and formed a government. In the 2009 election, however, UBP regained power by winning 44 percent of the vote, while CTP received 29 percent. This was seen as a setback in the work to resume negotiations with the Greek Cypriots. UBP leader Dervis Eroglu prevailed in the 2010 presidential election, thereby strengthening the touristic nationalist policy. In the 2013 parliamentary elections, it was CTP that became the largest party (21 seats) and, together with the DP (12 seats), could form a coalition government. UBP received only 14 seats and TDP 3 seats. In the 2015 presidential election, the TDP candidate Mustafa Akinci defeated, which in turn strengthened the forces working for continued negotiations with the Republic of Cyprus on a resolution of the Cypriot conflict.

In the spring of 2015, the government got into a crisis when CTP left the cooperation due to disagreements on financial issues. UBP then sought support from DP and formed a new government. Negotiations on a solution to the Cyprus issue were intensive but did not lead to agreements. Turkey’s strong interests in Northern Cyprus were considered a limiting factor. Domestic politics increased tensions and new elections to Parliament were held in January 2018.

UBP became the largest party (36 percent), but it was CTP (21 percent), DP (8 percent) and TDP (9 percent) who, together with the newly formed (2016) centrist and system-critical People’s Party (Halkin Partisi, HP) received 17 percent of the votes, formed a coalition government.

The government’s political programs include secure, good relations with Turkey, which is necessary to stabilize the economic situation, and at the same time open for new negotiations with the Republic of Cyprus on reunification.


Apart from e.g. the rules on real estate (which were based on Ottoman law) and family law (which in Greek Cypriots constituted Greek Orthodox church law and in the case of Turkish Cypriots were similar to Turkish law), Cyprus, upon its creation as an independent state, adopted English law, as applied 16 August 1960, unless otherwise prescribed for the island. The judiciary consists primarily of district courts and, in more serious criminal cases, of so-called Assize Courts. The Supreme Court is called the Supreme Court.

Since 2004, legal developments have been greatly influenced by the country’s membership of the EU. The death penalty was abolished in 2002; the last execution took place in 1962.

Heads of State


1960-74 Makarios III
1974 Nikos Sampson
1974-77 Makarios III
1977-88 Spyros Kyprianou
1988-93 Georgios Vassiliou
1993-2003 Glafkos Klerides
2003-08 Tassos Papadopoulos
2008-13 Dimitris Christofias
2013 Nicos Anastasiades

Cyprus Head of Government

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