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Cyprus

Cyprus

5. Participation

5.1 General context

On this page
  1. Main concepts
  2. Institutions of representative democracy

Main concepts

Youth participation emerges as an important aspect of the lives of young people in Cyprus. Politicians, stakeholders and state officials are gradually more concerned about the low level of youth participation in the country. The Youth Board of Cyprus as well as the Office of the Commissioner of Volunteerism and NGOs take more actions to measure and boost the youth participation in the social and democratic life.

Institutions of representative democracy

The system of government of the Republic of Cyprus is presidential democracy, with a clear separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judicial. As it is stated on the official website of the website of the House of Representatives, Executive power is exercised by the President, the Vice-President and the Council of Ministers, judicial power lies with the courts of the Republic and legislative power is exercised by ​ the House of Representatives and the Communal Chambers.

As it is mentioned both on the website of the House of Representatives, the 1960 constitution has provisions to ensure a balance of power between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The separate majority of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Representatives needed for the amendment of the electoral law and for the adoption of any law relating to the municipalities or imposing taxes and duties.  The House of Representatives, was to be elected by universal suffrage with 35 Greek and 15 Turkish seats and a term of no longer than five years. Under the amendment of 1985, the legislature was to comprise 80 seats (56 Greek, 24 Turkish). In 1996 a system of proportional representation was introduced. The seats reserved for Turkish Cypriots have been unoccupied since 1963.

The presidential term lasts five years, with the next presidential election due in  2023. Ministers, who are appointed by the President, may not be members of the parliament. In the Republic of Cyprus currently there are 11 Ministries. These are:

•             Ministry of Agriculture,  Rural Development and the Enviroment

•             Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry

•             Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works

•             Ministry of Defence

•             Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth

•             Ministry of Finance

•             Ministry of Foreign Affairs

•             Ministry of Health

•             Ministry of Interior

•             Ministry of Justice and Public Order

•             Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance

As for the district administration, the official website of the District Administration Offices of the Republic of Cyprus mentions that Cyprus is divided into six administrative districts. These are: Nicosia, Limassol, Pafos, Larnaka, (in the government-controlled areas) and Famagusta and Keryneia (in the occupied areas). Each District is headed by a District Officer who is a senior civil servant appointed by the Government as its local representative. The District Officer is the chief coordinator and liaison for the activities of all Ministries in the District and is accountable to the Ministry of Interior. The District Offices are not elected local or regional authorities, but are part of the civil service.

On local level, there are two types of local authorities, Municipalities and Communities, which are governed by separate laws. In principle, Municipalities constitute the form of local government in urban and tourist centres while communities constitute the local structure in rural areas. Any community may become a municipality by local referendum, subject to the approval of the Council of Ministers, provided it has either a population of more than 5.000, or has the economic resources to function as a municipality. Mayors are elected directly by the citizens on a separate ballot, for a term of five years and are the executive authority of the municipalities. In addition, the official website of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities mentions that the functions of Communities are generally similar to those of municipalities, although structurally different. The residents of the community elect the President of the Community and the Community Council for a term of five years.

As stated in the Law for electing members of the parliament 1979, all Cypriot citizens who are resident in Cyprus for a period of six months before becoming eligible to vote, have the right to vote. Voting was compulsory in Cyprus and failures to register or to vote were violations of law with sanctions applicable but not enforced in practice. However, based on the Cyprus Government Gazette, on May 31, 2017, the cabinet approved a bill abolishing compulsory voting in elections. On December 6, 2019, the House of Representatives, voted unanimously in law the amendment of the age limit for claiming a parliamentary seat, from 26 years to 22 (complete the age of 21). This regulation gave to youngest people the opportunity to have an active role and say in the political events of the place and strengthened their participation in the public.