President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has pledged to work for dialogue and closer cooperation with the House of Representatives.The President also pointed out that the day after the elections finds the people of Cyprus facing the same serious challenges that existed prior to the elections.

In a written statement issued after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, President Christofias expresses regret at the high percentage of abstention, saying this is not a “healthy phenomenon in the country’s political system.”

The main opposition party, the right wing Democratic Rally (DISY), topped the polls in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, gaining 138,614 votes and a comfortable lead of 34.27% against the ruling left wing AKEL party, which rallied in second position with 132,163 votes and 32.67%. Both parties increased their share of the vote, compared with the corresponding percentage in the 2006 parliamentary elections.

The biggest upset of the night was the number of abstentions, reaching 113,282 or 21.32%, an unprecedented figure in parliamentary elections.

“The day after the parliamentary elections finds the people facing the same serious challenges that existed prior to the voting,” President Christofias said, adding that the Cyprus problem is the primary issue which due to the protracted Turkish attitude, continues to remain unresolved.

“We will continue the great effort to solve the Cyprus issue, always with consistency to principles and showing the necessary realism. We will continue the effort to build the necessary unity on the internal front and to have dialogue and consensus, irrespective of the differences that exist with the political forces”, he added.

President Christofias said that dialogue and consensus is necessary to deal with the problems of the Cypriot economy. Many of these were caused by the global economic recession and others that ensued after the crisis have been troubling the economy for years.

“We hope there is a response to our call for dialogue and cooperation, leaving behind the climate of intense confrontation and nihilism that characterized the pre-election campaign”, the President stressed.

He said the government is determined to continue efforts towards fiscal consolidation, adding that to handle the consequences of the crisis, “everyone should be willing to undertake the cost apportioned to their capabilities”. The government, he added, is determined to continue with changes in society, opening new horizons and prospects for Cyprus and its people.

In this difficult task, the House of Representatives is a fundamental partner, President Christofias said, adding “we will work to develop dialogue and achieve closer and smooth cooperation between the government and the House, a very important element in the proper functioning of the state and we shall implement policies that will benefit society and the country”.

The President congratulated all those who have contributed to the excellent conduct of the parliamentary elections. “People went to the polls without any problems and once again proved that democracy on the island is at very high levels,” he added.

The President congratulated the parties that secured seats at the House and all those elected, sending special congratulations to the parties that have increased their share of the vote.

The President went on to add that “these elections, unfortunately, have designated another winner, abstention. The high percentage of abstentions, by Cyprus’ standards, is something that should concern everybody”.

He pointed out that “abstention from elections is not a healthy phenomenon for the political system. It sends messages which we all have a duty to analyse and interpret. The responsibility to correct the situation belongs, primarily, to the political forces, the Executive and Legislative. Collectively and specifically, the abstention phenomenon should be addressed with the aim to persuade citizens that through organized participation in the political life, there can be solutions to the problems and prospects for the people and the country.”

This can be achieved, he added, “without becoming populist, radical or fanatical and through dialogue, consensus and mutual respect, without exultations and nihilism” and maintaining a “sense of responsibility for the public interest”.

Examining the abstention phenomenon, President Christofias said we should all look into the quality of the political speech and the role of the means which the political forces use to get their messages across to the people.

President Christofias thanked the Chief Returning Officer and election officers and all civil servants who worked during the elections, and congratulated the elected members of the House, wishing them productive and creative work ahead.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. President Christofias is engaged in peace talks with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis Eroglu to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite the country under a federal roof.

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