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Cyprus

Cabinet green-lights single referendum on local authority reform

ΠτΔ – Υπουργικό Συμβούλιο // Por – C

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal for a single referendum to be held on local authority reform whose discussion has been dragging on for years amid opposition from political parties and certain communities.

Oppositions parties, especially Akel, threw a spanner in the works by suggesting individual referendums should be held by communities to decide whether they wanted the reform, which includes mergers. The reform provides for sweeping changes in local authority operation, including cutting the number of municipalities from 30 to 17 and merging hundreds of communities to achieve economies of scale.

The government said having individual communities reject the bill after it is passed by parliament would essentially nullify the reform, as it would render it unenforceable.

On Tuesday, the cabinet approved a proposal to hold a single, island-wide referendum together with the parliamentary elections on May 30, which will be forwarded to parliament for discussion.

It includes the question to be set to the people in potential poll: “Do you agree with the local authority reform on the basis of the government proposal for the creation of 17 new municipalities with administrative and financial independence?”

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the proposal would reach parliament by Wednesday and the legislature is asked to approve or reject it.

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