Government

Cyprus is a republic with a presidential system of government. The 1960 constitution vests executive power in a president who is elected for five years. The president is elected directly by popular vote; voting is by universal suffrage and is compulsory.The president exercises executive power through the Council of Ministers and government spokesmen appointed by him.

Originally, 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 did not have to be members of parliament.

However, since 1963, the Turkish Cypriots have ceased to participate in government. Negotiations to create the basis for a new constitution to improve relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been held intermittently since the mid-1960s. In 1975, Turkish Cypriots created their own constitution and governing bodies within the ‘Turkish Federated State of Cyprus’, though the only state which recognised the secession was Turkey.

Since 1985, the legislature, the House of Representatives, was to be elected by universal adult suffrage with 56 Greek and 24 Turkish seats for a maximum of five years. In 1996 a system of proportional representation was introduced.The seats reserved for Turkish Cypriots have been unoccupied since 1963.

The Republic of Cyprus became a member of the European Union in May 2004. The application of the aquis is suspended in those areas over which the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control. Referendums on the UN reunification plan were held simultaneously in the two communities in April 2004 but the proposals were rejected.

The judicial system is broadly based on English common law, and is presided over by the Supreme Court, which in 1964 succeeded the Supreme Constitutional Court and the High Court.The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and rules on constitutional issues. The other organs of justice include the district courts, assize courts, family courts, rent control courts, the military court and the industrial dispute court.

Greek Orthodox religious law also has an influence on Cyprus’s judicial system.