Despite Big Change in Parliament, Cyprus Vote Showed Apathy

A voter exits a booth at a polling station during the parliamentary elections in southern port city of Limassol in this mediterranean island of Cyprus, on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Cypriots elect a new parliament amid high voter disillusionment with what many see as the country's discredited political establishment. Some 543,000 voters are eligible to cast their ballots for 56 lawmakers. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – A protest vote giving the far-right seats in Cyprus’ Parliament overshadowed another number: a nearly 30 percent abstention.

Voters disgruntled over austerity and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades reneging on campaign promises turned to options other than the traditional mainstream parties but many just stayed home in apathy or as a silent form of protest.

The far-right ELAM party got 3.78 percent. It supports the 1974 Athens coup that sought to unite Cyprus with Greece and triggered Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus’ north, which has left the island divided since.

The polls didn’t change the government but showed the level of dissent over the bailout terms and banks creating a crisis for which no banker was held accountable despite Anastasiades’ promise to do so, another broken vow.

Although Cyprus exited the bailout program this year, the handling of the agreement and corruption scandals caused widespread public anger with the government and over lingering joblessness and low salaries.