NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — In one version of a story May 22 about parliamentary elections in Cyprus, The Associated Press erroneously switched the descriptions of northern and southern Cyprus.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Protest vote puts far-right party in Cyprus parliament
Far-right ELAM and two other small parties won seats in Cyprus' parliament for the first time during elections that were marked by the second-lowest voter turnout and biggest shift among swing voters in Cypriot election history
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Far-right ELAM and two other small parties won seats in Cyprus' parliament for the first time during elections Sunday, marked by the second-lowest voter turnout and biggest shift among swing voters in Cypriot election history.
Analyst Christophoros Christophorou said final results indicate a strong undercurrent of disillusionment with the country's traditional powerhouses. A total eight parties have entered the 56-seat parliament, the most in 15 years. A third of registered voters didn't cast ballots.
"I want to believe that the choice of a large portion of the electorate not to participate in the elections will give pause to everyone," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in a written statement.
Christophorou said sizeable portion of voters sought to punish larger parties for a recent economic crisis that saw unemployment hit record levels. It may also be a backlash to the doubling of the electoral threshold to 3.6 percent — the percentage of votes required to win a seat in parliament — that many interpreted as a bid to shut out smaller parties.
This result has no effect on the formation of the government which is already in place. That changes only after presidential elections, which will next be held in 2018.
Communist-rooted AKEL saw its vote share shrink to its lowest ever level with 25.7 percent, according to Christophorou. But the party managed to hold on second place behind right-wing DISY which also hemorrhaged support of around 10-11 percent.
ELAM, which is said to have links to Greece's Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party advocates a hard-line nationalist stance in ongoing talks with breakaway Turkish Cypriots aimed at reunifying the ethnically split island nation. Cyprus was divided into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aimed at union with Greece.
The two other new parties, the center-left Citizens' Alliance and the Solidarity movement, also espouse a tougher line in peace talks. Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have made significant headway after a year of renewed talks, but difficulties remain. Both men have said they aim to put together a deal by the end of the year.
The emergence of the new parties in parliament could ratchet up pressure for a firmer negotiating stance in peace talks. But it doesn't necessarily mean it would result in a majority of Greek Cypriots rejecting reunification when a finalized peace deal is put to a referendum in both communities, said Christophorou.
The multiplicity of parties in parliament could also complicate the passage of contentious legislation if the two largest parties don't see eye-to-eye on a bill, he said.