What is the takeaway from the Cyprus elections?
The conservative Disy party has emerged the strongest force in Cyprus's parliamentary elections, while the left-wing Akel has maintained its position as the strongest opposition party. However, both parties suffered losses compared to the 2016 election, and the far-right party Elam gained considerable ground. Commentators in Cyprus and abroad voice their concern.
Disappointed voters looking for alternatives
The traditional parties in Cyprus have no reason to celebrate, Alitheia notes:
“The fact that 15 party formations are running with more than 650 candidates in a country of 500,000 eligible voters is an alarm signal for political life in Cyprus. ... If we've reached the point where everyone feels the need to participate in the elections on their own or with a smaller or larger group, it means that the traditional parties and political forces no longer inspire confidence in the citizens. They have disappointed the people and scared them away, but the voters are not giving up. They're returning via alternative routes.”
Wake-up call for Brussels
This election should sound alarm bells, warns Corriere della Sera:
“A disillusioned Cyprus, worn down by rising migrant numbers and political scandals, went to the polls on Sunday. The result is a wake-up call that should also be loud and clear in Brussels. Because both President Nikos Anastasiadis' party, the conservative Disy, and Akel's socialist opposition lost in Nicosia even though they remained the two strongest forces. ... By contrast, the far-right National Popular Front (Elam), twin sister of the now-banned Golden Dawn in Greece, came fourth with 6.78 percent. The ultra-nationalists were able to capitalise on the population's concerns about rising migration which has made Cyprus the country with the highest number of asylum seekers in the EU.”
Further than ever from a federal solution
The increase in votes for the xenophobic, extreme right National Popular Front (Elam) does not bode well for peace efforts on the island, fears the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası:
“Growing nationalism and xenophobia played a major role in Elam's surge in votes. ... The result is an election in which the supporters of a federal solution and political equality for both communities in Cyprus were defeated. It is an election result that proves that the far right is on the rise in South Cyprus as well as closer to home. It is very likely that the tense days regarding Cyprus and our region will continue and increase.”