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Cyprus

Neophytou plans to pursue cross-voting initiative

DISY leader Averof Neophytou

By Constantinos Psillides

RULING DISY leader Averof Neophytou said on Tuesday that he was in favour of cross-voting, proposing that this change in voting procedure be implemented when electing “regional MPs” in the 2016 parliamentary elections.

DISY has long lobbied for sweeping ballot reform, proposing in the past the full implementation of cross-voting, raising the electoral bar, holding simultaneous municipal and parliamentary elections and replacing seven of parliament’s 56 MPs with so-called “regional MPs” to be voted via a cross-voting procedure.

The issue of party voting re-surfaced after former rector of the University of Cyprus and member of the Transparency Now platform, Stavros Zenios, issued a list with all MPs on Sunday regarding their stance on cross voting.

Cross-voting allows voters to pick candidates from different parties. Under the present system, voters choose either the party or specific candidates from that party.

“Not only has DISY been in favour of cross-voting for decades but had tabled an amendment to be discussed at the parliament,” said Neophytou during a press conference.

“AKEL, DIKO and EDEK seem to be against cross-voting. We would like for cross-voting to be introduced for all, but this seems to be impossible, given the current situation,” said the DISY leader.

Neophytou added that he would meet the parties that favour cross-voting – the Greens and Citizens Alliance – and with Transparency Now to propose that regional MPs are elected via cross voting in 2016, as way of testing the procedure.

“This would be the first real step towards introducing this voting procedure,” he said.

But it is unlikely that Neophytou will find willing allies within the Citizens Alliance or the Greens, considering that he is also in favour of raising the electoral bar to 4 per cent.

Currently 1.8 per cent of the vote is enough for a party to claim a seat in parliament and DISY’s suggestion means that the Greens and Citizens Alliance would be left out.
Neophytou told reporters that he was fully aware that his suggestion would not be welcomed by all.

“We have the courage to come out and say that the current electoral system could possibly be problematic for the country’s political stability,” he said, pointing out that in the recent Euroelections DISY got 38 percent of the vote and elected two MEPs while EDEK and the Greens got 8 per cent and elected one.

“Is that democratic?” he asked, noting that as the system currently stood, a party would only need 4,000 votes to elect an MP in the coming elections of 2016.

When introducing the amendment a year ago, DISY claimed that raising the electoral bar would keep extremists out of parliament. DISY has specifically mentioned far-right wing ELAM, which has close ties with the Greek far-right group Golden Dawn.

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