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President refers bill on vacant seat to supreme court

The supreme court in Nicosia

Following the advice of the attorney-general, President Nicos Anastasiades has decided to refer a controversial bill concerning a vacant seat in parliament to the supreme court, the government spokesman said on Friday.

The decision is the latest twist in a legal saga that started after the May 2016 parliamentary elections.

Prodromos Prodromou said the bill’s referral was necessary because the attorney-general said there were a series of constitutional infringements, as well as violation of people’s mandate and the separation of powers.

Opposition parties on Wednesday passed the proposal knowing that the bill was unconstitutional and urged the president to sign it so that the Solidarity Movement would get the seat.

The dispute began after 2016 elections when Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous ran for MP while maintaining a position in the European parliament as an MEP.

After her election as Limassol MP with 3,788 votes, she opted to keep her place as an MEP, leaving her seat to the party’s runner-up, Giorgos Papadopoulos, who received just 767 votes.

Theocharous has since been accused of making a mockery of the election process since she probably planned the entire thing from the onset.

In May 2017, the supreme court cancelled Papadopoulos’ election but House president Demetris Syllouris, who also belongs to Solidarity, tabled a proposal which was eventually voted into law that allowed seats vacated before an elected MP has been sworn in to go to the party’s next in line.

That law was also shot down by the supreme court this April, over the fact that since parliament had not been in session when Papadopoulos replaced Theocharous, he was therefore not covered by the law or the constitution.

Ruling Disy has favoured a by-election all along, ruling out any attempt to amend the constitution, which would have been the only solution.

Amending the constitution needs a two-thirds majority in the 56-seat legislature, something impossible without Disy.

 

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