Cyprus recently elected Annita Demetriou as its first female parliamentary speaker since the island first became an independent republic in 1960. Lawmakers elected her with 25 votes out of the 56 seat parliament, a major game changer for Cypriot women, who have long been a minority in the island nation’s politics.
The position is one of the highest in Cypriot politics, second only to the President. Demetriou distinguished herself from six other (all male) candidates to win the spot. The 35-year-old parliamentary speaker had served as the parliamentary secretary for five years before winning her ballot.
The rising politician, who studied at the University of Kent, began her career after being elected to Parliament in 2016.
Annita Demetriou signals new era for Cyprus politics
Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades is particularly proud of the election, saying that “What’s most important is that a strong message is being sent out to all women of Cyprus, to all citizens of Cyprus, that women can and must strive for such positions because they deserve them.”
Anastasiades formerly headed the Democratic (DISY) Party of which Demetriou is currently a member.
Cyprus is not completely without female representation in its politics, but the ratio of male to female representatives is extremely unbalanced. To date, there are only eight women as part of the country’s 56-seat parliamentary body.
Despite this disparity, the new speaker appears to be up to the task. She said she would do her work with “with a deep sense of responsibility” and “impartiality and objectivity.”
Cyprus’ parliamentary elections
Cyprus recently held elections for a new House of Representatives, of which Demetriou is the President, this past May.
Cypriot nationals elected 56 of the 80 members of the island’s House of Representatives at that time.
The 80 members of the House of Representatives are elected from six multi-member constituencies, with the number of seats allocated according to the population of each area.
Of the 80, 56 are elected by Greek Cypriots and 24 by Turkish Cypriots. However, since 1964, the Turkish Cypriot seats have been unfilled and the House of Representatives has de facto had 56 seats since its enlargement in the 1980s.
The elections are held using open list proportional representation; voters vote for a party and can then cast one preferential vote for a candidate on their party’s list for every four seats available in their constituency (party leaders or other candidates heading coalitions are not required to receive preferential votes to be elected).
Seats are allocated using the Hare quota, with any remaining seats allocated to lists that won at least one seat or parties that received at least 3.6 percent of the vote.
The main political parties of Cyprus are the Democratic Rally, the Progressive Party of Working People, the Democratic Party, the Movement for Social Democracy, the Movement of Ecologists – Citizens’ Cooperation, the National Popular Front, the Citizens’ Alliance, the Solidarity Movement, and the Democratic Front.