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The true number of Turkish Cypriot voters

All Turkish Cypriots, aged 18 and over, and in possession of an updated Republic of Cyprus identification card have the automatic right to vote in the EP elections

SINCE 2004, Turkish Cypriots have had the right to participate in EP elections, regardless of whether they live in the occupied or free areas, though only a few hundred have made use of that right.

Until now, to vote one had to register with the Interior Ministry to have their name placed on the electoral roll.

There are an estimated 1,300 Turkish Cypriots currently registered on the list, less than half of whom live in the free areas.

The new bill provides that all Turkish Cypriots, aged 18 and over, and in possession of an updated Republic of Cyprus identification card have the automatic right to vote in the EP elections, without the need to enlist on the electoral roll first.

According to Electoral Service head Demetris Demetriou, there are currently around 95,000 Turkish Cypriots with modern Cyprus Republic ID cards who will be 18-plus on May 25.

However, the new law passed on Thursday includes an amendment to the original draft, excluding the automatic right to vote from all Turkish Cypriots who, when applying for a Cyprus Republic ID declared their place of residence to be in the government-controlled areas.

This figure comes to around 28,000, all of whom will have to follow the same procedure as other EU nationals, including Greek Cypriots, living in the free areas and register on the electoral roll before April 2 if they wish to have the right to vote or stand as a candidate.

Demetriou acknowledges that the number of Turkish Cypriots declared to be living in the free areas is clearly inflated as there are believed to be only around 1,000 Turkish Cypriots actually resident in the government-controlled areas.

Candidate Erkin Salih argues the 28,000 figure might be explained by the intention of displaced Turkish Cypriots to pursue their property rights through the Cyprus Republic legal system, requiring them to be registered as resident in the government-controlled areas.

According to Demetriou, for the remaining 67,000 Turkish Cypriots, the electoral service will set up voting booths near checkpoints across the island, most likely in Astromeritis, Ayios Dhometios, Ayios Andreas, Pyla, Machairitou, Kato Pyrgos and possibly at Faneromeni School in old Nicosia and at the Ledra Palace.

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