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Low turnout in Cyprus parliamentary elections

Nearly 30 percent of citizens have abstained from casting their votes in Sunday's polls. According to exit polls, the far-right ELAM party may make it into the parliament for the first time.

Zypern Wahlen Nicos Anastasiades im Wahllokal in Limassol

Nicos Anastasiades casting his vote in Limassol

According to election officials, around 67 percent of Cyprus' 542,915 voters turned out to choose their representatives from 493 candidates. Abstention was at a record high, with around 30 percent not casting their vote.

Official results were expected by midnight.

Initial results after counting 75 percent of the votes indicated Cyprus' 56-member parliament could have eight parties this time, up from five after the 2011 elections. President Nicos Anastasiades' right-wing Democratic Rally party (DISY) was in the lead with 31 percent of the votes, the communist AKEL received about 21 percent and the far-right ELAM got 3.78 percent of the votes, suggesting it could make it into the parliament for the first time in Cyprus' history,

The far-right party supports the 1974 Athens coup that sought to unite Cyprus with Greece and triggered Turkey's invasion of Cyprus' north. The assault led to the division between the country's north and south. Sunday's election was dominated by the

issue of the island's reunification.

The polls were also the first since Nicosia received its economic bailout in 2013 and imposed harsh austerity measures in return for aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU).

Although Cyprus exited the bailout program this year, the handling of the agreement and corruption scandals caused widespread public anger with the government. Persistently high unemployment and low wages have added to the discontent.

mg/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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