Political life in Cyprus entered a standstill period after the declaration of independence in August 1960. With the exception of by-elections in 1960 and 1961, for filling seats in the House of Representatives that were left vacant either after deputies became ministers or became vacant for other reasons, no other electoral action took place.

In 1965, the government promoted through the parliament laws that extended the term of office of the President of the Republic and of the Members of the Parliament, renewed afterwards every twelve months. In addition, new laws adopted in July 1965 established a unified electoral roll, abolishing the separation of voters and electoral processes based on community criteria. Turkish Cypriot MPs asked to return back to the House and participate in the proceedings. However, they could not agree with the government’s terms, transmitted by the House President Glafkos Clerides, to accept a joint electoral roll and the new order imposed since 1964.

The government’s actions caused a crisis, with London and Ankara making demarches to Nicosia, and the United Nations Security Council adopting a resolution in August 1965 calling on parties to avoid any actions that was likely to worsen the situation.

Some significant developments that occurred during 1967 are likely the reason that led Makarios to announce a presidential election for February 1968. In fact, a serious of dramatic events made it necessary for the President to appeal to the people for the renewal of his mandate, seeking in this way to ratify through a vote his new policy. In less than 9 months, in 1967, the following events took place, with a direct impact on the Cyprus Problem:

In Athens, the coup d’état by the Junta, brought the dictatorship of the colonels to power, on April 21, 1967. This marked a new turn in the relations of Makarios with Athens and the rivalry of Grivas and Makarios, and their respective followers.

The already existed warfare climate between those who projected themselves as genuine supporters of Enosis /union with Greece against the power was exacerbated, as was also the division between the Right and the Communists.

A campaign against “the anti-Hellenes and anti-Unionists” in Cyprus, emanating from Athens and the Athens radio, led to a unanimous resolution of the House of Representatives for a “genuine Enosis /Union with Greece”, on 27 June 1967.

The Junta took also initiatives to resolve the Cyprus Problem ending in a fiasco meeting with Turkish officials in Evros area in Northern Greece, in September 1967.

Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader that stayed away from Cyprus since 1964, was captured on October 31, 1967, in his attempt to land secretly on the island. He was freed and sent back to Ankara a few days later, on November 12.

The battle of Kofinou village followed on November 15, which brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war. The Junta succumbed to Ankara’s demands and called back to Greece, Grivas, the leader of the National Guard and armed forces on the island, on November 19. He was considered responsible for the events despite the fact that Athens and Nicosia were aware and had decided the attack against Turkish Cypriot forces at Kofinou.

More important, however, was the decision to withdraw the Greek Army Division sent to Cyprus in 1964 under Papandreou’s government, with Defense Minister Garoufalias. The withdrawal began on 8 December 1967 and was completed on 16 January 1968.

In this confused state of affairs, the Turkish Cypriots proceeded to the proclamation of the “Provisional Turkish Cypriot Administration” in the night of December 29 to December 30, 1967).

The turning point, with Makarios’ announcement of a new policy to seek what was a “feasible” and not the desirable goal of Cyprus, on January 12, 1967, marked a new course for the island. The aim was now independence, not union with Greece, as it was often stated in public and was proclaimed in the House resolution only six months earlier. The choice of a new goal led Makarios to seek his re-election on February 25, 1968.

In the short election campaign, the supporters of Enosis/ union with Greece, with their nominee, the psychiatrist Takis Evdokas, carried a campaign of harsh and strong criticism of Makarios, his government and his policies on the Cyprus Problem. In spite of Makarios’ expected sure and overwhelming victory with the support of all political forces, including AKEL, a climate of fanaticism, threats and intimidation of the opponents had prevailed.

Takis Evdokas got a very small percentage (3.7%), which allowed the President and his supporters to interpret the result as a categorical popular support of the new line on the Cyprus Problem.

The election results and what preceded it in 1967 facilitated the great shift of policy in the Cyprus Problem and the moves that followed. Three months later, Rauf Denktash returned via a regular route to Cyprus, and from May 1968 on he represented his community in the inter-communal talks, with Glafcos Clerides representing the Greek Cypriot community.