NICOSIA, May 30 (Reuters) - Cyprus's ruling conservatives
emerged as winners but failed to get an absolute majority in a
parliamentary election on Sunday, with voters turning to smaller
parties, including a right-wing party with links to Greece's now
outlawed Golden Dawn.
With all votes counted, Cyprus's mainstream conservative
Democratic Rally and Communist AKEL held their position as the
two largest parties on the island, but support for both was
eroded by smaller groupings on record-low turnout.
ELAM, an anti-migrant nationalist party which wants to ban
the burka and the niqab, almost doubled its showing compared to
the 2016 poll to about 6.8% of the vote, placing it fourth in
Links between Cyprus's ELAM and Greece's Golden Dawn have
been well documented in the past. Golden Dawn was outlawed as a
criminal organisation by a Greek court in Oct. 2020 and leading
ELAM rejects a long-standing objective to reunite Cyprus
along the lines of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, a
position held by the Greek Cypriot side in the decades-old
conflict splitting the Mediterranean island. The island is home
to Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 prompted by a
brief Greek-inspired coup. Countless attempts at mediation have
failed to resolve the dispute which is a prime source of tension
between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
"I think that the clear winner is ELAM, and this is a
problem for people that believe in federation (as a solution)
and I believe that the result will be used by the nationalist
circles in the north as well," said Andromachi Sophocleous, a
political analyst and peace activist.
She was referring to northern Cyprus, a breakaway Turkish
Cypriot state recognised only by Turkey.
Cyprus has faced a string of corruption scandals in recent
years, with analysts expecting mainstream parties taking the
brunt of disillusionment among voters. ELAM, along with other
smaller parties, had also campaigned on a platform of rooting
Voters were left reeling from a cash-for-passports scheme
that the current administration had to abandon amid allegations
of corruption last year.
"While it is itself part of the system ELAM has managed to
perpetuate the facade that it is not, and therefore gains a lot
from this disillusionment in the traditional parties,"
Cyprus has an executive system of government, but the result
is a gauge of the popularity of incumbent President Nicos
Anastasiades of the right-wing Democratic Rally party who is in
his second five-year term.
Sunday's voting was held only in the government-controlled
areas of Cyprus. Abstention was 34.3%.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas
Editing by Frances Kerry, Jane Merriman and Emelia