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Supreme court vacates Solidarity’s parliamentary seat (updated)

Eleni Theocharous

The supreme court, in its capacity as the electoral court, on Wednesday cancelled the election of a Solidarity Movement MP in the district of Limassol, possibly opening the way for a by-election that could see the party lose a seat.

The court was adjudicating on an appeal filed by former Disy MP Andreas Michaelides.

Michaelides appealed after Solidarity Movement chairperson Eleni Theocharous, who had won the seat in Limassol last December, chose to keep her seat in the European Parliament instead.

The seat was granted to the party’s runner up, Giorgos Papadopoulos, who received only 767 votes.

Michaelides disputed the procedure, arguing that a by-election should have been held instead of granting the seat to the runner up.

Solidarity has three seats in the 56-member parliament.

The former Disy MP’s lawyer, Charalambos Prountzos, said it was an unprecedented decision by the full bench of the supreme court.

He said that now it was up to the chief returns officer to decide on how to proceed.

“Our position is that a by-election must be held,” he told the state broadcaster.

Prountzos said Theocharous had rejected the seat before the start of the parliamentary term, something that is not addressed by the existing law.

“The law on parliament defines only how a vacated seat is filled during the parliamentary term. In all other cases by-elections must take place,” the lawyer said.

The court said it was unacceptable for the chief returns officer and the district returns officer to act on the basis of the law that specifies the procedure for filling a seat during the parliamentary term when the issue emerged before.

A statement from the chief returns officer said the decision was fully respected.

“It is being studied right now in co-operation with the attorney-general’s office to decide the next steps,” the statement said.

Theocharous, who won the seat with 3,788 votes, said the decision was respected but insisted that it still belonged to her party.

“The court didn’t say the seat doesn’t belong to Solidarity,” she said.

Michaelides voiced his satisfaction over the decision. He thanked his lawyers and said he was ready for any decision take by the returns officer.

The former MP, who was also a football coach in the past, said: “As we say in football, this is the first half. We must wait and see what the chief returns officer decides from now on.”

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