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Law needed to plug electoral loophole, AG says

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

The legal loophole that prompted the electoral court to vacate a parliamentary seat should be resolved through a new law that will reflect the political will of the executive and the legislature, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Friday, stressing that the solutions on offer could not be applied.

“It is our view and advice to the chief returns officer and the (interior) minister, that this legal loophole must be plugged with the submission of relevant legislation that will of course reflect the political will of the executive, and ultimately the House, as to the way of filling a vacated seat during and before the parliamentary term,” Clerides said after a meeting at the Legal service.

Clerides said neither of the two solutions – granting the seat to the next in line and holding a by-election – could be applied based on the existing legislation.

The problem emerged after the supreme court, in its capacity as the electoral court, cancelled the election of Solidarity Movement MP Giorgos Papadopoulos in the district of Limassol following an appeal filed by former Disy MP Andreas Michaelides.

Michaelides appealed after Solidarity Movement leader 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 Papadopoulos, who received only 767 votes.

Michaelides argued that a by-election should have been held instead of granting the seat to the runner-up.

The court vacated the seat, saying there was no law regulating issues that emerged before the parliamentary term started. The current legislation provides for a vacated seat to be filled by the next in line, as long as it happens during the parliamentary term.

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.

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