The election of Glafkos Clerides to the Presidency of the Republic in 1993 and the alliance DISY-DIKO, as well as the introduction of a single proportional system set the stage for the 1996 parliamentary elections. Broadcasting was taking a dominant place in the public sphere. Private television was operating since 1992, with four private and two public television channels forming the new landscape at the time of the 1996 elections.

The single proportional system, voted in June 1995, provided that any party with a vote share over 1/56 (1.79%) of the valid votes could participate in the second allocation of seats. This made it feasible for new parties to enter the parliament, a task almost impossible with the requirements set by the previous system. The old threshold was 8% plus one seat won in the first allocation of seats or 10% of the overall vote.

Three new formations were contesting seats in parliament:

  • the Free Democrats Movement – KED, founded two years earlier by former President George Vassiliou,
  • the Ecologists – Environmentalists Movement, founded by people from the Ecological Movement and the Friends of Akamas, and
  • New Horizons, led by Nikos Koutsou and individuals from the Cyprus Studies Center – KYKEM, while,
  • Nicos Rolandis decided that the Liberal Party would present some candidates on the ticket of DISY.
    ADISOK was running for a second time, along with the four parliamentary parties, AKEL, DIKO, DISY and EDEK.

The European course of Cyprus, the unified defense doctrine with Greece and the government’s performance in the economy took the top spot on the election campaign agenda of DISY. In respect of the use of color, the party’s advertising campaign remained confined to deep blue and its shades, a reference to Europe and to the party colors of nationalism.

The main slogan of DIKO was ‘modernization’ and the promise that the party’s history and the party itself constituted guarantees for the future of Cyprus.

EDEK used in its campaign the slogan “there is EDEK – there is a solution”. It also presented its own party emblem with the stars of the European flag around it, and the rose.

KED cited its consistency and professed the (coming) major change.

As for AKEL, its main motto was “let’s give back hope”. Through the color composition of the name AKEL – LEFT – NEW FORCES, it expressed the ideological opening attempted by the party, which was clearly manifested since 1991. It used red as a dominant color, along with orange, green and a little bit of blue, the colors of the four dominant parties /ideologies in Cyprus. The ideological opening was manifested through the inclusion on its ticket of even traditionally right-wing persons, such as Christodoulos Veniamin, former Interior Minister. In the party’s array of symbols appeared also the rose, which became on object of friction with EDEK, both claiming “ownership”.

New Horizons clearly positioned itself against a federal solution to the Cyprus Problem, promoting thus the picture of a new force.

The election campaign was confined to the television studios and big meeting halls. The fear of a potential failure to attract large crowds of supporters made the parties reluctant to organize open-air rallies and gatherings in large spaces.

Overall, voter apathy continued to be a dominant feature of the election.

Despite declining rates, DISY, in partnership with the Liberal Party, occupied the first place with 34.47%. AKEL also made a remarkable progress, raising its vote share by 2.5 points to 33%. The parties that were claiming for themselves to represent the center of the ideological spectrum, DIKO and EDEK suffered new losses. DIKO was down to 16.4% and EDEK received 8.1%, well below their 1991 rates (19.5% and 10.9% respectively).

The only new party that succeeded to win seats in the House of Representatives was KED. With 3.7% of the vote, it elected the couple Androula and George Vassiliou.