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AKEL rules out ‘horse-trading’ for House Speaker role

Disy and AKEL party leaders after Sunday's vote

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou, thought to be a contender for the vacant position of House Speaker, said on Tuesday his party would refrain from horse trading over the nomination procedure, which takes place on June 2 along with the swearing-in of the new parliament.

Speaking on CyBC radio, Kyprianou declined to be drawn further, saying only that the matter would be discussed by the party’s central committee.

In the wake of Sunday’s elections, speculation is building as to who will become the next House Speaker which, though in itself a largely ceremonial position, is the first litmus test for the power balances in the new parliament, especially after the two largest parties DISY and AKEL saw their numbers diminish in the ballot.

On Tuesday night, Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis officially announced he would be contending for the seat after the party’s “unanimous decision.”

He said he was basing his candidacy on a 2011 proposal that allows the term to be split. Perdikis cited his “extensive experience” in parliamentary matters and a central voice between DISY and AKEL. Earlier in the day he had said he would leave the House before the end of his new five-year term.

Media reports say AKEL is keen on securing the position, with none other than Kyprianou filling the post.

But the support of AKEL MPs alone is not enough if there is a vote for the position due to more than one person standing for it. According to parliamentary regulations, a vote is held for House Speaker where the winner requires an absolute majority, or at least half the votes cast. Where an absolute majority is not possible, the House Speaker is elected by relative majority or a plurality of votes.

But also speaking on Tuesday, DIKO chief Nicholas Papadopoulos ruled out his party backing a nominee coming from either DISY or AKEL. At the same time, Papadopoulos put paid to rumours he was interested in the position.

DIKO’s stance opens up a myriad of permutations.

Should more than one person be nominated, AKEL may ally with otherwise archrivals DISY to elect Kyprianou. It has also been suggested that the two parties may agree to share the position, by splitting the term of office of the new House Speaker.

DISY boss Averof Neophytou is another option.

Alternatively, Kyprianou might secure support from one or more of the smaller parties – particularly from EDEK.

At the same time, the smaller parties – even without nationalists ELAM, with two seats – have the numbers to push through their own candidate.

DIKO, EDEK, the Citizens Alliance, the Solidarity Movement and the Greens-Citizens Cooperation can muster 20 votes, easily outstripping those of either Kyprianou (16) or Neophytou (18) should it come down to a plurality vote.

But again, this is thought to be an unlikely scenario; tensions between EDEK and the Citizens Alliance mean it is doubtful they will agree on a joint candidate, and the same goes for the Citizens Alliance and DIKO.

Meantime Demetris Syllouris, formerly head of EVROKO and now an MP with the Solidarity Movement, seemed to be throwing his name in the hat as the most senior deputy in the new House.

Other possibilities are EDEK MP and leader Marinos Sizopoulos.

Meanwhile the entry of 28 new parliamentarians necessitates a major reshuffle of the parliamentary committees.

Seven of the incumbent MPs who ran for re-election and failed had previously chaired parliamentary committees, and in a number of committees the majority of deputies are new.

In the finance committee, of the 11 members only four have been re-elected: DISY’s Marios Mavridis, DIKO’s Nicholas Papadopoulos and Angelos Votsis, and the Greens’ Perdikis.

Other panels which have likewise been ‘decimated’ due to the elections are the House watchdog and ethics committees.

The finance committee in particular has a great deal of work ahead, as new MPs struggle to come up to speed with a series of major legislative items, including reform of public service and a bill changing the method of property taxation.

Other major bills will be the privatisation of state telecoms CyTA, shop operating hours, bills restricting parliamentary immunity and reform of local administration.

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