Backing for president in Cyprus vote

NICOSIA (AP) – Greek Cypriots boosted President Tassos Papadopoulos’s centrist DIKO party in yesterday’s election for parliamentary seats, according to final results – an outcome likely to be seen as an endorsement of his rejection of a UN peace plan to reunify the war-divided island. With 100 percent of votes counted, DIKO had 17.91 percent, compared to 14.8 percent in the last election for the country’s 56-seat Parliament in 2001. The vote, the first since Greek Cypriots rejected and Turkish Cypriots backed a UN peace plan in simultaneous referendums in 2004, affects only the balance of power in Parliament. The government, chosen by the president, who is elected on a five-year mandate in a separate ballot, will remain unchanged. The next presidential election is in due in 2008. Still, an increase in parliamentary seats for Papadopoulos’s party could affect the course of any new attempt to resolve the island’s division. It could also be seen as an endorsement of a government that has threatened to bloc Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member. Among the island’s two largest parties, communist AKEL – part of the governing coalition with DIKO – won 31.16 percent and right-wing DISY, the main opposition party, won 30.33 percent. Papadopoulos, 72, said the election provided a boost to his government. «The government, strengthened by the overall message of the election, will continue its work,» Papadopoulos said. Only one Turkish-Cypriot candidate ran – Neshe Yashin, with the centrist United Democrats in Nicosia – but she did not win enough votes for a parliamentary seat. «I wish the best for our country and that one day we will have elections in a united Cyprus,» she said. DISY leader Nikos Anastasiades said the vote showed that «DISY remains a big and powerful party.» State chief returning officer Lazaros Savvides said voter turnout was at 89.02 of 501,024 registered voters, compared to 91.7 in 2001.