Opposition communist AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou will step down after the party’s worst election showing in recent history, garnering 22.3% of the vote at Sunday’s election despite the government’s popularity nose-diving.
He becomes the first casualty of the parliamentary election that saw AKEL lose a seat while far-right ELAM, a DIKO splinter group and the Greens all made gains.
Kyprianou told state broadcaster CyBC he would step aside as leader at the next party conference at the beginning of July.
He told CyBC he had taken the decision several months before the election and had informed the party’s political bureau.
Kyprianou underlined the decision was not made after AKEL’s poor showing at the ballot, adding the political bureau said the fault for the poor performance was not down to individuals.
He argued that in its 95-year history, AKEL had faced many difficulties and had always managed to find the strength to renew itself and overcome any hurdles.
AKEL’s outgoing leader was at the party’s helm for 12 years, during which time his party suffered two electoral defeats at the parliamentary level, losing 10% of its vote (50,000 voters).
After eight years in opposition, AKEL failed to win over voters and saw it garner 22.34% on Sunday, down 3.3% on the previous elections.
Despite being the main opposition party to a government tormented with scandals ranging from the disgraced golden passports to officials forging their academic credentials, it also lost one seat.
On the contrary, ruling DISY held its ground, remaining the largest party with 27.7% of the vote despite a 3.3% reduction.
When Kyprianou took over in 2009, AKEL had got its former General Secretary, the late Demetris Christofias, elected President of the Republic.
The first predominantly AKEL government was tainted with leading the country into a punishing EU bailout to save the bankrupt economy in 2013 and the 2011 Mari naval base disaster.
In the 2006 elections, the last one before Kyprianou took over, AKEL received 31.3% of the vote, coming first ahead of DISY.
AKEL MPs George Loukaides and Stephanos Stephanou have been tipped to replace Kyprianou at next month’s party congress.
Other prominent members include former Interior Minister, Nicosia Mayor and MEP Eleni Mavrou, who was not re-elected.