AKEL victor in Cyprus general elections
The Cypriot communist party, AKEL, has come out victor in the island's general elections beating the ruling Democratic Rally (DISY) by a neck. The fiercely contested poll with a turnout of nearly 92 per cent gave the communist party its best result in 75 years. AKEL, the Progressive Party of the Working People, garnered 34.71 per cent of the vote. The Democratic Rally was close behind with 34.1 per cent. This leaves AKEL the biggest single party in the Nicosia parliament with 20 seats. The Democratic Rally retains 19. The Democratic Party won nine, the Movement of Social Democrats got four and the United Democrats one — all down one seat from the previous parliament. Three new parties, New Horizons, the Fighting Democratic Movement and the Ecologists, entered parliament for the first time winning a seat each in the 56-strong House of Representatives. The Democratic Rally's Government has been under fire for years — blamed for the stock exchange crash amid accusations of insider dealing by Ministers. Government Ministers have been accused of nepotism and graft, particularly in the building industry, and the public as a whole is angry at the staggering rise in crime, shown by the almost nightly bomb blasts and arson attacks and the alarming increase in drugs and prostitution. The first task of the new parliament, which meets on June 7, is to prepare legislation for the divided island's entry into the European Union. AKEL, like most of the Cypriot parties, supports joining the EU. Many Cypriots believe that EU membership will hasten the end of the Turkish occupation of the north. AKEL calls for a federal solution to the problem once the Turkish army goes and AKEL leader Demetris Christofias pointedly referred to the Turkish Cypriots as "compatriots" in his victory address. This gesture of good-will was not returned by the puppet leader, Rauf Denktash, the veteran Turkish Cypriot politician who administers northern Cyprus on the back of the guns of the Turkish army. He dismissed the results claiming they showed that "Greek Cypriots have no intention of finding a solution". Denktash is bitterly opposed to Cyprus's entry into the EU without a settlement as it would further isolate his "republic of northern Cyprus" which is recognised only by Turkey.
* * *New Worker, paper of New Communist Party (abridged)