Cyprus is a Presidential republic. The head of state and of the government is elected by a process of Universal suffrage for a five-year term. Executive power is exercised by the government with legislative power vested in the House of Representatives whilst the Judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislature. The 1960 Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as a complex system of checks and balances including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive was led by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president elected by their respective communities for five-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions. Legislative power rested on the House of Representatives who were also elected on the basis of separate voters’ rolls.
Cyprus has been a member state of the European Union since 2004
Following clashes between the two communities the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remain vacant since 1965. Turkish Cypriots refused to establish the state of affairs before the invasion of Cyprus as is evident in the Secretary-General of the United Nations who said “The Turkish Cypriot leaders have adhered to a rigid stand against any measures which might involve having members of the two communities live and work together, or which might place Turkish Cypriots in situations where they would have to acknowledge the authority of Government agents. Indeed, since the Turkish Cypriot leadership is committed to physical and geographical separation of the communities as a political goal, it is not likely to encourage activities by Turkish Cypriots which may be interpreted as demonstrating the merits of an alternative policy. The result has been a seemingly deliberate policy of self-segregation by the Turkish Cypriots. By 1974 the two communities had returned to a more tolerant state of living.
In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto when the Turkish army occupied the northern third of the island. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but were recognized only by Turkey. In 1985 the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. The United Nations recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the entire island of Cyprus.
The House of Representatives currently has 59 members elected for a five year term, 56 members by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Armenian, Latin and Maronite minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community but remain vacant since 1964. The political environment is dominated by the communist AKEL, the liberal conservative Democratic Rally, the centrist Democratic Party, the social-democratic EDEK and the centrist EURO.KO. On 17 February 2008 Dimitris Christofias of the AKEL was elected President of Cyprus, on AKEL’s first electoral victory without being part of a wider coalition. Christofias took over government from Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party who had been in office since February 2003.