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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Q&A: Cyprus elections
Ballot boxes at the conference centre in Nicosia, Cyprus
500,000 Cypriots are eligible to vote

Greek Cypriots go to the polls on 21 May to elect deputies to the Cyprus parliament, the House of Representatives.

Cyprus has a presidential system of governance and the elections will have no direct impact on the administration of President Tassos Papadopoulos.

The president was elected in February 2003 and his term in office expires in 2008.

How is the parliament organised?

The single-chamber House of Representatives officially comprises 80 seats, but only the 56 allocated for Greek Cypriots will be contested in this election.

The rest are reserved for Turkish Cypriots but these have remained unfilled since 1963.

Elections to the House are held every five years.

What is the main issue?

The campaign has been fought under the shadow of the 2004 referendum, when Greek Cypriots rejected the UN-backed plan for an eventual reunification of the island.

President Papadopoulos - who backed the "No" campaign - has been calling for a strong vote as an endorsement of that decision.

At a recent rally he appealed to Greek Cypriots to show they are "steadfast" in their rejection of the plan.

Observers suggest that his party, the Democratic Party (DIKO), is expected to gain over others - such as the opposition Democratic Rally - that supported the reunification plan.

What about the economy?

Cyprus has been a member of the European Union since May 2004 and enjoys relatively low inflation (2.4%) and unemployment (3.4%).

Seat allocation
Nicosia: 21
Limassol: 12
Famagusta: 11
Larnaca: 5
Paphos: 4
Kyrenia: 3

Cyprus is on course to adopt the euro in January 2008 but the communist AKEL - the largest party in the present parliament - argues that an austerity drive to meet EU fiscal targets will hurt ordinary citizens.

Finance Minister Mikhalis Sarris has sought to calm those fears, but AKEL is unconvinced.

It points to the general public perception that the cost of living is rising and is lobbying for euro adoption to be postponed for 12 months to allow the economic transition to run more smoothly.

Who is standing?

A total of 487 candidates from nine parties and eight from religious groups are seeking election to the 56 seats.

In addition, a Turkish Cypriot woman - Neshe Yashin - is making use of a new dispensation and standing as a candidate.

The main parties are President Papadopoulos' Democratic Party (DIKO), the communist AKEL, the social democratic EDEK - all of whom are in the present coalition government - and the opposition Democratic Rally (DISI).

Who will be voting?

There are just over 500,000 registered Greek Cypriot voters.

Turkish Cypriots living in the Greek part of the island are also being allowed to vote - for the first time since 1963. Around 270 have registered to cast their ballot.

Each of the six electoral districts has a set number of seats according to population. These seats are allocated by means of a system of simple proportional representation.

A party must gain 1.8% of the vote to qualify for entry into parliament.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




SEE ALSO
EU approves Turkish Cypriot aid
27 Feb 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Cyprus
16 May 06 |  Country profiles

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