Cyprus’s Ruling Disy Party Falls to 40-Year Low in Elections

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s center-right Disy party recorded its worst result in parliamentary elections in 40 years, as voters vented their frustration over the government’s handling of the country’s “golden passport” program.

With presidential elections due in 2023, support for Disy fell to 27.7% compared with 30.7% in the last vote in 2016, according to figures from the eastern Mediterranean island’s Interior Ministry, with 99.5% of votes counted.

Voters also punished the main opposition communist-rooted Akel party with its vote falling to 22.3% from 25.7% in 2016, an historic low. Centrist Diko came third, the far-right Elam doubled its support to come fourth, socialist Edek fifth, new moderate party Dipa sixth, and the Greens seventh.

While the results of the ballot have no direct impact on the government given Cyprus’s presidential system, it will now be even harder for Anastasiades to pass legislation without the support of smaller parties.

With the two largest political movements losing ground, “we will work with all parties to get reforms through parliament,” Disy spokesman Demetris Demetriou said in an interview with Alpha TV.

Cyprus’s Ruling Disy Party Falls to 40-Year Low in Elections

Voters have credited the government with relatively good management of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, yet “the election process was dominated by corruption scandals and the consequences of the controversial passport-for-investment program,” said Alexander Apostolides, a researcher at the European University Cyprus.

Former speaker of the Cypriot House of Parliament Demetris Syllouris resigned in October, after an Al Jazeera report caught him on video offering to help a Chinese businessman with a criminal record get citizenship.

An Akel lawmaker was also implicated. Jho Low, a Malaysian linked to the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal, was also among the beneficiaries of the program offering citizenship to foreign investors. Cyprus ended the program in November.

In January, Anastasiades was only able to secure lawmakers’ support for his government’s 2021 budget after a second vote amid continued fallout over the passport program.

“Legislative reform will be even more difficult in the new parliament, which has serious ramifications for implementing reforms to absorb European Union funds to combat the effects of the pandemic,” Apostolides said.

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