In February 2008, Dimitris Christofias, Secretary General of AKEL was elected to the Presidency of the Republic, with the support of DIKO, winning a clear victory against the DISY candidate Ioannis Kassoulides. For the first time in the history of the Republic of Cyprus, the left is in power. Thus, the party’s goal of autonomous executive take-over, set in 1995, was fulfilled, not just to support others to govern. The political scene reverts to the bipolar confrontation of the right against the left, with one of the two political forces in power and the other in opposition. After adopting initially a stance of tolerance and support to Christofias on the Cyprus issue, DISY changes its position and the confrontation reverted to its usual characteristics of ideological tensions.

The positive climate in which Christofias presidency began and his electoral aspirations for a “just society and a just solution” became cloudy over time. In the Cyprus issue, talks with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat aiming at a “Cypriot-owned solution” made some progress but without a genuine approach to a solution. An upset to the situation occurred in Spring 2010, when Talat lost power to the nationalist Dervis Eroglu, a veteran leader of the National Unity Party – UBP. The period that followed this upset wasn’t particularly productive.

Internal governance begun to produce phenomena similar to those of previous governments, with favoritism in appointments, tensions in the relations of the executive with state officials and other evils. The relations between the Presidential Palace and the Parliament became particularly problematic in so far as there has been talk of a ‘governing parliament’ interfering with the powers of the executive. AKEL often faced negativity in both positions or vote in the House, even from EDEK and DIKO, which participated in the government with ministers. More important, perhaps, was the impact of the international financial crisis, which, despite statements that the Cypriot economy was healthy enough to remain unaffected by the crisis, its negative impact on Cyprus became evident in 2010. A few days prior to the May 2011 elections, the Republic of Cyprus lost its credentials and was excluded from the international markets. The government remained inactive and took no measures to face the problems.

The election campaign focused mainly on the Cyprus Problem, the economy, and internal affairs, as well as immigration. DISY projected the picture of a unifying force, ready to meet the challenges, an approach that also played its part as a way out of its isolation, given that the other three major parties were in government, excluding DISY. DIKO once again invoked its past, starting from Makarios to Tassos Papadopoulos government, to paint a picture of consistency and perspective for the future. At the same time, it was recalling its role in rejecting the Annan Plan in the 2004 referendum and its positions on the Cyprus Problem. EDEK calls citizens to vote for it, and bolster its power for the benefit of the people In line with EVROKO, it also rejected some proposals put forward by Demetris Christofias in the talks on the Cyprus Problem.

In contrast to other political forces, AKEL called on voters to respond by massively voting for it and making the party stronger, for the benefit of the people. It made reference to the party’s history and over time work that benefited the people. It did not miss recalling negative elements from the right-wing government of Glafcos Clerides, such as the purchase of the S300 missiles from Russia that ended in Crete, the stock market crash in 1999-2000 and more.

The dynamic confrontation of right and left boosted through polarization the influence of both AKEL and DISY, which approached once again their vote share of older electoral contests. DISY won four points compared to 2006, climbing to 34.3% and occupying 20 seats in parliament, while AKEL gained 1.6 points and received 32.7%, with 19 seats in parliament. EDEK remained at the same vote share as in previous elections, but with a geographical shift in influence, with losses in Nicosia and gains in Limassol and elsewhere. DIKO, which polls were showing to suffer significant losses, secured in the end 15.8%, which was two points less and two fewer seats (nine against 11) compared to 2006).

A major feature of the election was the rate of abstention, as almost doubled compared to 2006, reaching 21.3% versus 11%. Serious concerns expressed and appeals made by parties and government officials ahead of the election, amid signs of high abstention, did not persuade voters to turn up in the polls.

We note that due to the variation in the number of voters in the constituencies, one seat was moved to Larnaca from Nicosia. From 2011 onwards, they have six and 20 seats respectively.