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Cyprus far right enters parliament as voters protest

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades casts his vote at a polling station with his grandchild and his wife Andri (2nd L) during parliamentary elections in Limassol, Cyprus May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou


Nicosia/ AFP

Cypriots disaffected by three years of economic downturn have protested at the polls, staying away in droves and electing two far-right lawmakers in an echo of the populist wave sweeping Europe.
Final results released on Monday showed that 3.7 percent of voters backed the National Popular Front (ELAM), a party which defends the Athens-inspired coup of 1974 that triggered a Turkish invasion that has left the island divided to this day.
Turnout in Sunday’s election was a record low of 67 percent on an island where voting is in theory compulsory.
The rightwing Democratic Rally (DISY) of President Nicos Anastasiades, who negotiated a 2013 bailout for the island with international creditors, took 30 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the 56-seat parliament, down two on the last election in 2011.
The main opposition communist party AKEL fared worse, taking just 25 percent of the vote and 16 seats, a loss of three, as a protest vote hit both the major parties.
An unprecedented eight parties won seats in the new parliament, making it potentially the most fractious ever and posing a major challenge for the president in pushing through unpopular reforms promised to lenders.
The centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO), which gave key backing to Anastasiades on the reforms demanded by the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, won an unchanged nine seats.
The right-wing Solidarity Movement (KA) took three.
The Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK), the leftwing populist Citizens Alliance (SYPOL) and the Ecological and Environmental Alliance (KOP) all also won seats. Half of the new members of the House of Representatives are first-time lawmakers, and the number of women MPs has jumped from four to 11.

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