The first parliamentary elections were expected soon after the presidential election of 13 December 1959. However, disagreements in the negotiations to finalize the constitution and other arrangements relating to the British bases caused delays and the elections were postponed for a later date. It was originally reported that they would be held in early January 1960, then in February, but they were finally set on 31 July 1960.

The electoral law published on 31 December 1959 defined six constituencies corresponding to the six districts, with a varying number of seats, proportional to each one’s population. It established a plurality system with the option of choosing candidates from different parties. This system left the possibility open for all seats to come to a single party if its candidates won the majority of votes in all six constituencies. The balance of political forces at the time could not exclude such a scenario.

AKEL strongly reacted to the electoral law and for several weeks its newspaper, Haravgi, published articles and analyzes on the advantages and the democratic nature of a simple proportional system. AKEL’s reaction proved vain, and this might have been the reason why Makarios intervened and imposed a pre-electoral share of seats between the Patriotic Front and AKEL. The agreement provided that 30 seats would come to the Patriotic Front and five seats to AKEL – which, however, had a voting share estimated at least at 30% of the electorate. This arrangement became known shortly after the presidential elections in December 1959, and the left-wing party was assigned two (2) seats in Nicosia, and 1 in each of the constituencies of Famagusta, Paphos and Limassol)

On the basis of this arrangement, strong and intensive efforts were made to avoid elections, arguing that this was a way to secure the unity of the people, while strengthening also the leaders towards the other community. Efforts were effective in the province of Paphos only, where three candidates from the PM and one from AKEL were proclaimed elected MPs.

The Democratic Union, which lost its allies of the presidential election, decided not to participate in the parliamentary elections. In fact, it failed to organize into a party with proper party structures. Some EOKA fighters, who remained committed to the pursuit of Enosis – Union with Greece, or were unhappy with the new state of affairs, contested election in Nicosia and Kyrenia as Pancyprian Association of Fighters. There were also some independent candidates, among them a woman. Lawyer Kallistheni Maounis, an Oxford University Law graduate, was the only female contestant, running in Limassol. In the end, however, (as had already happened with others), Kallistheni withdrew her candidacy soon after the Paphos candidates had been declared elected unopposed. Press reports clearly indicate an increase in pressures to withdraw candidacies beyond those on the tickets of the Patriotic Front and AKEL.

Thus, on 31 July 1960, two weeks before the proclamation of the independent Republic of Cyprus, parliamentary elections were held. On August 7, the election for the members of the Communal Chambers followed, based also on the division of seats between the Patriotic Front and AKEL. In this case, efforts to avoid an electoral contest had been more successful, with the exception of one constituency, Kyrenia.

The result had been decided beforehand since the Patriotic Front and AKEL came to the agreement already made in December 1959. The number of nominees they presented did not exceed the total number of seats in each constituency, and were the sure winners.

The results

The most interesting feature of the first parliamentary election is undoubtedly the contempt shown by a significant part of the electorate towards the fundamental process of democracy; More than 35% of the voters did not go to the polls to exercise their right, despite efforts by the leaders to increase turnout.

The highest abstention rate is recorded in Larnaca, where (as in Kyrenia) there were no AKEL candidates. In Larnaca, 60 out of every 100 voters stayed away from the polls, considering their participation as having no meaning. In fact, the picture in specific polling stations and communities is even more extreme: The abstention rate in about half of the 44 polling stations in the Larnaca constituency ranges between 60% and 80%, and in one case it reaches 94%. The absence of a real meaning of the election and the neutralising effects of the pre-electoral agreement left no incentive to many Larnaca voters to go to the polls. The phenomenon of abstention among AKEL followers is especially high, since there was no party candidate in Larnaca. The abstention rate has strong correlation to the strength of the party in each community.

In Nicosia constituency, abstention equals the pan-Cypriot rate (35%), but in some polling stations it exceeds 70%. It is particularly high in the town of Nicosia and its suburbs, with over 20 polling stations featuring abstention that ranges from 50-72%.

Regarding the share of votes of the parties and independent candidates, we note the following:

  • AKEL’s share in the constituencies is placed candidates corresponds to 42.9% of the valid votes, indicating high influence rate, despite the problematic period it went through from 1955-1959 because of its exclusion from the EOKA anti-colonial struggle.

The percentage of the candidates of the Pancyprian Union of Fighters reached up to 21.4% in Kyrenia), pointing to the influence of its bishop, who was severely criticizing Makarios and his exercise of power.

  • In fact, the vote share of independent candidates, is also high, reaching 12.6%, which is also worth mentioning.