Cyprus - Government

The 1960 constitution of the Republic of Cyprus respects the two existing ethnic communities, Greek and Turkish, by providing specifically for representation from each community in the government. The president must be Greek and the vice president Turkish. Under the constitution, these officers are elected for five years by universal suffrage by the Greek and Turkish communities, respectively; each has the right of veto over legislation and over certain decisions of the Council of Ministers. (The Council of Ministers is made up of seven Greek and three Turkish ministers, designated by the president and vice president jointly.) Legislative authority (as of 20 June 1985) is vested in the 80-member House of Representatives, elected by the two chief communities in the proportion of 56 Greek and 24 Turkish. In January 1964, following the outbreak of fighting, Turkish representatives withdrew from the House, and temporary constitutional provisions for administering the country were put into effect.

Archbishop Makarios, who became president of Cyprus in 1960, was reelected in 1968 and 1973. Following his death in 1977, the leader of the House of Representatives, Spyros Kyprianou, became president; he was elected to two five-year terms in 1978 and 1983. (George Vassiliou, an independent, succeeded him in 1988; Glafcos Clerides was elected in 1993 and reelected in 1998. Tassos Papadopoulos was elected president in 2003). Rauf Denktash was elected vice president in 1973, but the post has remained effectively vacant since the 1974 war, in the absence of Turkish participation. Denktash has been president of the Turkish area since 1975.

On 13 February 1975, subsequent to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot Federated State (TCFS) was proclaimed in the northern part of the island, and Denktash became its president. A draft constitution, approved by the state's Constituent Assembly on 25 April, was ratified by the Turkish Cypriot community in a referendum on 8 June. Establishment of the TCFS was described by Denktash as "not a unilateral declaration of independence" but a preparation for the establishment of a federal system. Denktash was elected president of the TCFS in 1976 and again in 1981; elections to a unicameral legislature of 40 seats were held those same years. On 15 November 1983, the TCFS proclaimed itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), separate and independent from the Republic of Cyprus. In June 1985, TRNC voters approved a new constitution that embodied most of the old constitution's articles. The new constitution, however, increased the size of the Legislative Assembly to 50 seats. In elections held in June 1985, Rauf Denktash won reelection to a five-year term as president with more than 70% of the vote. Denktash has since been reelected in 1990, 1995, and 2000.

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