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Nationalist Elam gain big in parliament vote

Elam leader Christos Christou speaking to the press after he went to vote on Sunday (CNA)

Although ruling Disy emerged as winners on Sunday, many voters turned to smaller parties, including Elam, a right-wing party with links to Greece’s now outlawed Golden Dawn.

Elam, an anti-migrant nationalist party which wants to ban the burka and the niqab, almost doubled its showing compared to the 2016 poll to about 6.8% of the vote, placing it fourth in voter preferences.

Links between Elam and Greece’s Golden Dawn have been well documented in the past. Golden Dawn was outlawed as a criminal organisation by a Greek court in October 2020 and leading members jailed.

Elam rejects a long-standing objective to reunite Cyprus along the lines of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

“I think that the clear winner is Elam, and this is a problem for people that believe in federation (as a solution) and I believe that the result will be used by the nationalist circles in the north as well,” said Andromachi Sophocleous, a political analyst and peace activist.

Cyprus has faced a string of corruption scandals in recent years, with analysts expecting mainstream parties taking the brunt of disillusionment among voters. Elam, along with other smaller parties, had also campaigned on a platform of rooting out corruption.

Voters were left reeling from a cash-for-passports scheme that the current administration had to abandon amid allegations of corruption last year.

“While it is itself part of the system Elam has managed to perpetuate the facade that it is not, and therefore gains a lot from this disillusionment in the traditional parties,” Sophocleous said.

Elam’s president Christos Christou said his party was the big winner of the elections as it had doubled it vote. “We are here to stay,” he said pledging hard work from tomorrow to help all those in need. He also pledged to stand against corruption, whoever it may come from.

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