Greek-Cypriots go to the polls today to elect a new parliament. The vote is widely seen as a sign of how far they are willing to compromise on the future of the Mediterranean island.
The elections are the first since Greek-Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected a peace plan tabled by the United Nations two years ago, just a week before they joined the European Union. Since then, peace talks with Turkey have been at a standstill. Ankara, which alone recognises and supports a breakaway state in northern Cyprus, needs the consent of the Cypriot government to continue its EU accession negotiations. However polls suggest President Tassos Papdopoulos’ governing coalition, which maintains a hardline policy against Turkey, will bolster its position in today’s vote. Parties which campaigned in favour of the UN plan are expected to lose out. That has left Turkey with little hope of a new political climate conducive to reviving peace talks. For the first time in decades, some 270 Turkish Cypriots living in the south of the island will vote in the elections, thanks to a recent constitutional amendment. And in another landmark, one Turkish-Cypriot will stand as a candidate – the first since 1963.