The Republic of Cyprus is a democracy with a directly elected executive President, serving a five-year term. The 1960 constitution has provisions to ensure a balance of power between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The legislature, 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 executive was to comprise a Greek President, a Turkish Vice- President and a council of ministers, with seven Greek and three Turkish members. Ministers may not be members of parliament. The President is to be elected by absolute majority. If this is not achieved, a second election between the two top candidates is to be held. All Cypriots must declare themselves either to be Cypriot Greeks or Cypriot Turks (the Armenian, Maronite and Latin communities declared themselves Greek for this purpose).
The ratio of Greek to Turk in the army must be 6:4, and 7:3 in the police, judiciary and civil service. Nicosia, Paphos, Larnaca, Limassol and Famagusta each have separate Greek and Turkish municipal authorities. Equal status was granted to the Greek and Turkish languages.
In the parliamentary elections in May 2001, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) took an increased share of 34.7 per cent of votes (20 seats) but the ruling coalition of Democratic Rally (34.0 per cent and 19 seats) and United Democrats (2.6 per cent and one seat) narrowly won the contest. Centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO) (14.8 per cent and nine seats) and social democratic KISOS (called EDEK until 1999 and again from 2006 – 6.5 per cent and four seats) both received slightly fewer votes than in 1997. For the first time 18–21 year-olds were entitled to vote and, since voting is compulsory, there was a high turnout (some 92 per cent) of the 468,000 registered voters.
DIKO leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, won the presidential election in February 2003, with the support of AKEL and EDEK, receiving 52 per cent of the votes, defeating incumbent President Glafkos Clerides (39 per cent).
The parliamentary elections in May 2006 were won by the governing coalition of AKEL, with 18 seats and 31.1 per cent of the votes, DIKO (11 seats and 17.9 per cent of the votes) and EDEK (KISOS) with five seats and 8.9 per cent of the votes. Democratic Rally gained 18 seats and 30.3 per cent of the votes.
In the lead-up to the presidential election of 2008, the ruling coalition of DIKO, AKEL and EDEK was unable to reach a consensus on a common candidate and so Papadopoulos was to run for re-election with the support only of DIKO and EDEK. Communist party AKEL left the coalition and chose its general secretary and House of Representatives President, Demetris Christofias, as its candidate. Ioannis Kasoulidis of Democratic Rally was the other major candidate.
In the presidential election in February 2008 – with turnout of around 90 per cent – the three candidates each received about one-third of the votes (Kasoulidis 33.5 per cent; Christofias 33.3 per cent; Papadopoulos 31.8 per cent). No candidate having more than 50 per cent of the votes, Christofias and Kasoulidis went into a second round and the incumbent Papadopoulos was eliminated from the contest. Christofias defeated Kasoulidis by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent. Christofias immediately invited DIKO and EDEK members to join his cabinet. DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos died in December 2008.
Formal UN-supported negotiations between the Government, led by President Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriots, led by Mehmet Ali Talat, began in September 2008. In June 2009, at the 32nd meeting, the economic agenda was concluded and discussions on territorial issues began. The first round of negotiations was concluded with the 40th meeting in August 2009. A second round of talks, covering economic matters, power-sharing, property rights and the EU was conducted from September 2009 to January 2010. A new round of talks got under way in May 2010, continuing through 2011, the Turkish Cypriots now led by Dervis Eroglu. The talks were abandoned in 2012.
In the May 2011 parliamentary elections, Democratic Rally secured 20 of the 56 seats contested (34.3 per cent of the vote); AKEL took 19 (32.7 per cent), DIKO nine (15.8 per cent), EDEK five (8.9 per cent), the European Party two (3.9 per cent) and the Green Party one (2.2 per cent), with turnout of 79 per cent. AKEL and DIKO formed a coalition government. The coalition collapsed in August 2011 following policy disagreements, leaving AKEL in a minority government.
The presidential elections of February 2013 were won by Nicos Anastasiades of Democratic Rally. He secured 45.5 per cent of the vote in the first round on 17 February, ahead of Stavros Mala of AKEL (26.9 per cent) and Giorgos Lillikas of EDEK (24.9 per cent), and went on to take 57.5 per cent in the second-round contest with Mala on 24 February.