Small parties look to gain in Cyprus’ parliamentary vote


NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cypriots voted Sunday to elect a new parliament, with opinion polls suggesting that the country’s two main parties will hemorrhage support as disenchanted voters seek out alternatives among a number of smaller parties.

The election won’t affect the running of the government on the divided Mediterranean island nation, as executive power rests in the hands of the president, who is elected separately.

Polls opened normally for the island’s 558,000 eligible voters, who were choosing among 21 political parties for the 56 Greek Cypriot seats in parliament.

Casting his ballot, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades urged citizens to “abandon the couch” and vote so they won’t “give others the right to decide for them.”

Among the parties projected to make gains in this election is the far-right party ELAM, whose strong showing in the previous election five years ago surprised many.

Smaller parties have appealed to voters to turn their backs on the largest, center-right DISY party, which they said is burdened by a legacy of corruption.

An independent investigation into a now-defunct investment-for-citizenship program found that it unlawfully granted passports to thousands of relatives of wealthy investors, some with shady pasts. DISY bore the brunt of the criticism because it backs the policies of Anastasiades, the party’s former leader.

DISY President Averof Neophytou appealed to traditional supporters in the final days of campaigning not to turn parliament into collection of fractured smaller parties that would gridlock the law-making process.

The country’s second-largest party, the communist-rooted AKEL, is also projected to lose support.

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