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Media Watch 2003

13 September 5203
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 13 September 2003.
Turkish Cypriots can vote in European elections

Turkish Cypriot citizens of the Republic will have the chance to vote in the European elections at polling stations set up near the checkpoints, according to the National Council.

A subcommittee appointed by the National Council, the advisory body to the president on the Cyprus problem, concluded its study yesterday, with unanimous agreement on the basic points. The subcommittee made clear proposals for Cyprus to participate in the upcoming European elections with a new ballot paper and a single electoral roll. The parties agreed to set up polling stations at the checkpoints to give easy access to Turkish Cypriots who wish to exercise their voting rights.
The National Council must now decide whether the vote for six representatives to the European Parliament in June 2004 will be compulsory or voluntary.
The Republic of Cyprus will participate for the first time in the elections, with a single electoral roll for all Cypriot citizens. The electoral roll will include Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and citizens from all other minorities.

DIKO deputy Andreas Angelides, told state radio yesterday that the subcommittee had also proposed a separate electoral roll for EU members who are permanent residents in Cyprus. According to Angelides, EU nationals living in Cyprus will have the right to vote or stand as candidates for Cyprus in the euro-elections.
Asked how Turkish Cypriots would be registered in the electoral roll, Angelides replied that the law governing elections covered all of Cyprus. “However, certain provisions of the law cannot be implemented because of the current situation and because of the protocol for suspension of the implementation of the acquis communautaire in the occupied north,” he said.

“We have discussed this and come up with a number of proposals which we believe will be helpful for further debate in the National Council,” he added.
Parties across the spectrum agreed to set up polling stations near the checkpoints to give Turkish Cypriot easy access, highlighted Angelides.

“Agreement was unanimous on basic points, but there were conflicting opinions on the compulsory vote,” said the DIKO deputy.

“There are three suggestions: compulsory vote with criminal consequences for failure to vote, compulsory vote without consequences just to show that the obligation exists without punishing violators, and voluntary vote.”

The finer points of the euro-elections, including compulsory voting await further discussion in the National Council. The final decision lies with the House of Representatives.

Voting in presidential and parliamentary elections is compulsory."