Politics of Cyprus

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The Republic of Cyprus is a unitary presidential representative republic, whereby the President of Cyprus is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Cyprus has been a divided island since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.[1] Since then, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus has controlled the south two-thirds, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognized by Turkey, the northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the sole internationally recognized authority on the island (as well as the United Kingdom being internationally recognized with respect to the SBAs), though in practice its power extends only to the government-controlled area.

Cyprus operates under a multi-party system, with communist AKEL and right-leaning Democratic Rally in the forefront. Centrist DIKO and lesser parties often form a coalition with the President's party and are allotted a number of ministries. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated the Cyprus as "flawed democracy" in 2016.[2]

United Cyprus

The 1960 Cypriot Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, for example, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios III, and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, Dr Fazıl Küçük, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.[3]

The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remained vacant, while the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber was abolished. The responsibilities of the chamber were transferred to the newfounded Ministry of Education.[4]

By 1967, when a military junta had seized power in Greece, the political impetus for enosis had faded, partly as a result of the non-aligned foreign policy of Cypriot President Makarios. Enosis remained an ideological goal, despite being pushed significantly further down the political agenda. Dissatisfaction in Greece with Makarios convinced the Greek colonels to sponsor the 1974 coup in Nicosia.

Turkey responded by launching a military operation on Cyprus in a move not approved by the other two international guarantor powers, Greece and the United Kingdom, claiming that this was for the protection of the Turkish minority from Greek militias. The invasion is called "Cyprus Peace Operation" by the Turkish side. Turkish forces captured the northern part of the island. Many thousands of others, from both sides, left the island entirely. In addition to many of the Greek Cypriot refugees (a third of the population), many Turkish Cypriots also moved to the UK.[citation needed]

Subsequently, the Turkish Cypriots established their own separatist institutions with a popularly elected de facto President and a Prime Minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an action opposed by the United Nations Security Council. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections.[5]