Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Monday ruled out that separate processes would take place in May 2024 for the municipal and European Parliament elections, after earlier expressing concerns about holding the two ballots simultaneously.

The minister held a meeting with MPs sitting on the House finance committee, to discuss amendments drawn up by the government on the local government reform law.

Later, the ministry issued a statement clarifying that there was no issue of holding separate ballots for the two elections, which coincide on the same day in May 2024.

Holding the two elections together would save the state millions of euros.

But earlier in the day, Ioannou had spoken of challenges in holding the two elections at the same time, given the sheer number of ballots to be cast.

This posed the risk of counting mistakes subsequently leading to legal challenges to the result – which in turn could derail the project for the reform of local administration.

Local government elections were to have taken place in December 2021, but were postponed to May 2024, extending till then the terms of current mayors and municipal councils.

It was part of the local government reform plan, to be fully rolled out in May 2024.

The reform provides for sweeping changes in local authority operation, including cutting the number of municipalities from 30 to 17 and fusing hundreds of communities.

The stated aim of the reform drive is to achieve economies of scale and lower the cost of services.