Cyprus Mail

Collusion accusations as electoral law discussions start

DISY leader Averof Neophytou (right) under fire

By Angelos Anastasiou

AS THE smaller parties seem to be graduating from flat denial to suggesting alternative arrangements, discussion of DISY leader Averof Neophytou’s proposal to raise the ‘electoral measure’ to 5 per cent for parliamentary elections began on Thursday.

Neophytou’s drastic proposed increase was countered by a more moderate suggestion of a 3.6 per cent increase by AKEL, as well as various others by other parties.

At a House interior committee session on Thursday, it was decided that the proposal will be brought before the plenum on November 26, six months before the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 2016.

But this did little to placate reactions by smaller parties, who feel such a move is directly aimed at keeping them out of parliament.

“We consider a change of the electoral law four or five months before the elections unacceptable behaviour,” said EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris.

“Our proposal is that if [AKEL and DISY] can’t be sensitised into reconsidering the time of the change – and it seems they can’t – horizontal vote is introduced for a quarter of the 56 MPs, the rest to be voted into the House with the current system.”

The Greens’ leader Giorgos Perdikis was equally critical.

“We disagree with any increase in the electoral measure and insist on implementation of proportional representation, as well as horizontal voting so that people can select individuals, not parties,” he said.

“It seems there has been collusion between [DISY and AKEL] behind the scenes.”

DISY deputy Andreas Kyprianou said Neophytou’s proposal concerns the second distribution of parliamentary seats only, thus “maintaining proportional representation in the first distribution”.

“It fully modernises Cyprus’ electoral law and brings it in line with those of 25 other EU member states.”

“There has been a suggestion by AKEL to raise the electoral measure to 3.6 per cent, instead of 5. We are open to discussion on this point.”

DIKO deputy Fytos Constantinou told the committee that his party proposed a decrease of the electoral measure for joint tickets among parties.

“Today, in order to participate in the second distribution, two collaborating parties must secure 10 per cent of the total vote,” he said.

“We propose that this minimum be lowered to 8 per cent. The same measure for three-party collaborations is 20 per cent, and we propose that it be lowered to 16 per cent.”

EDEK suggested abolishing the minimum electoral measure in the second distribution of parliamentary seats altogether, which reflects parties’ tally of votes on a national level, and replacing it with seat distribution based on votes won per district.

Non-governmental organisation Transparency Now also weighed in on the debate in a statement.

“Instituting a minimum electoral measure for parliamentary entry, can contribute to political stability,” the NGO said.

“But when it is attempted without the introduction of horizontal voting, it leads to the muzzling of voter blocs. Additionally, the measure cannot be higher than that set by other European countries employing this mechanism, i.e. 3 per cent.”

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