Cyprus: Country and Foreign Investment
Cyprus is an independent sovereign republic. The 1960 constitution established a unicameral presidential republic, as well as safeguarding human rights, political pluralism and private property. The country is a member of the UN, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth.
Members of the House of Representatives are elected for a 5-year term by proportional representation. There is a multi-party system with right-wing, centrist, socialist and communist parties.
The last Parliamentary elections took place in May, 2011 (next in May, 2016), with the result that the top six parties contesting the election are represented in the new House of Representatives.
The top four parties were the Democratic Rally (DISY), with 34.3% of the vote, followed by the lef-wing AKEL with 32.7%. Centre-right DIKO acquired 15.8% and the Social Democrats (EDEK) won 8.9% of the votes.
The executive government is appointed by the President; presidential elections in March, 2003, saw Tassos Papadopoulos replace Glafcos Clerides as President.
In February 2008, Papadopoulos's bid for a second five-year term as President of Cyprus came to an end.
It emerged after the first round of voting in the general election held that month that Ioannis Kassoulides, a former foreign minister and leader of the conservative DISY party, and Demetris Christofias, the leader of the communist AKEL party, were the two leading candidates to take on the country's presidency.
According to election results posted on the Cypriot government website at the time, Kasoulides gained 33.51% of the total votes cast, closely followed by Christofias with 33.29%. Papadopoulos attracted 31.79% of the vote.
Demitris Christofias subsequently became President on February 28, 2008.
Voting in Cyprus is compulsory for all Greek Cypriots over 18, including those enclaved in the Turkish occupied north, Latins, Maronites, Armenians and others who are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus through naturalisation.
There is an independent judiciary, and the Cyprus Supreme Court is the final court of appeal, although of course now that Cyprus is a member of the EU, the European Court of Justice has jurisdiction in some areas of law.
Ongoing differences over the North, and Turkey's putative EU entry dominate politics. In June, 2006, Cyprus avoided using its veto over the opening of the first chapter in Turkey's EU accession talks, on science and research.
However, the Greek Cypriot government urged the EU to push first for action in areas such as the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot vessels, and the recognition by Turkey of the authorities in Nicosia.
According to reports, they argued that Turkey had made no progress in these areas, and only withdrew their veto, allowing the first of 35 chapters to be opened, once a version of the agreement text had been drawn up which warned Turkey that: "Failure to implement its obligations in full will affect the overall progress in the negotiations."