NICOSIA – The Cypriot parliament elected its first female speaker on Thursday, handing the role to 35-year-old Annita Demetriou, a member of the governing conservative Democratic Rally party.
Demetriou received backing from the centrist Democratic Front and from ELAM, a far-right party which almost doubled its standing in a parliamentary election last month.
As speaker of the House of Representatives, Demetriou is second in the state hierarchy after the national president.
A political scientist by training, she is considered one of her party’s most successful politicians.
Demetriou’s first attempt to be elected a lawmaker almost failed in 2016 when she was removed from a list of potential parliamentary election candidates, and one senior member said the party was contesting an election, “not a beauty pageant”.
She was later reinstated after pressure from grassroot party members and went on to win her first term in parliament. She was re-elected to parliament last month.
Cyprus, a member of the European Union, has an executive system of government but parliamentary elections are an important gauge of how alliances may shift for presidential elections.
Seven parties are represented in parliament. None has an outright majority.