Nearly 95,000 Turkish Cypriots will automatically be enrolled to vote in the European Parliament elections on May 25 following a bill approved by the Cyprus House of Representatives.
This means that more than 600,000 people from both communities will go to the polls together for the first time in more than five decades of the troubled island’s history.
The parliamentary bill, supported by a majority 39 deputies from the ruling Democratic Rally (European Popular Party) and the opposition communist AKEL (European Left) allows for only those who have the new identity cards of the Republic of Cyprus to automatically register for the vote. This includes about 95,000 Turkish Cypriots and all Republic citizens who have just turned 18.
Earlier, potential voters would have to apply to enroll on the election register.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, a former MEP and EPP Group vice president who initiated the plan when he invited Turkish Cypriots to participate in the elections several months ago, told the House Interior Committee session earlier Thursday that this helps overcome a major obstacle and could even allow for the Turkish Cypriots to elect their own candidate from among the six MEPs allocated to Cyprus.
The European Parliament elections for the 2014-2019 session are seen as critical for the future of the 28-member European Union as several reforms and changes will allow the 751 MEPs to take a more active role, including the election of the Commission President, better oversight of the EU and the Commission’s activities and several legislative changes.
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