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Political System
1960 Constitution

According to the Constitution of 1960 the government of Cyprus was constituted in the following manner:

Executive power: Article 1 provides that the Republic will have a President who shall be a Greek Cypriot and a Vice-President who shall be a Turkish Cypriot, elected by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities respectively. The Constitution stipulates further that the President will appoint seven Greek Cypriot Ministers and the Vice-President three Turkish Cypriot Ministers.

Legislative power according to the Constitution is exercised by the House of Representatives comprising 50 Representatives, 70% (35) elected by the Greek Cypriot community and 30% (15) by the Turkish Cypriot community.

The administration of justice is carried out by the following judicial institutions: The Supreme Court, the Assize Court, the District Courts, the Military Court, the Rent Control Courts, Industrial Disputes Court and Family Courts.

The 1960 constitutional set up lasted for only three years. Following inter-communal clashes in December 1963, the Turkish Cypriot leadership withdrew all members of the community from all the organs of the state.

In the executive branch, ministerial portfolios increased to 11 with the addition in 1965 of the Ministry of Education, which was later renamed Ministry of Education and Culture. In view of the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriots from the Government, all Ministers are Greek Cypriots and are appointed by the President of the Republic. The post of Vice President remains vacant.

In the legislative branch the Turkish Cypriot representatives also withdrew from the House in 1963 and their posts remain vacant to this day. Under a special law the number of seats in the House of Representatives has increased to 80 (56 for Greek Cypriots, 24 for Turkish Cypriots). Changes have also taken place in the judiciary where, since 1965, all judges have belonged to the Greek Cypriot community.

The information is provided by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus.

Executive

Cyprus is an independent, sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is vested in the President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage to a five-year term of office.

The President of the Republic

The executive power exercised by the President inter alia consists of matters such as:

■ determining the design and colour of the flag of the Republic;
■ creation or establishment of the honours of the Republic;
■ appointment of the members of the Council of Ministers;
■ promulgation by publication in the official Gazette of the Republic of the decisions of the Council of Ministers;
■ promulgation by publication in the official Gazette of the Republic of any law or decision passed by the House of Representatives;
■ institution of compulsory military service;
■ reduction or increase of the security forces;
■ convening the meetings of the Council of Ministers, presiding at such meetings and taking part in the discussions thereat without any right to vote;
■ preparing the agenda of such meetings;
■ right of final veto on decisions of the Council of Ministers concerning foreign affairs, defence or security;
■ right of final veto on laws or decisions of the House of Representatives concerning foreign affairs, defence or security ;
■ right of return of decisions of the Council of Ministers;
■ right of final veto on laws or decisions of the House of Representatives concerning foreign affairs, defence or security;
■ right of return of laws or decisions of the House of Representatives or of the Budget;
■ right of recourse to the Supreme Constitutional Court;
■ right of reference to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The President exercises executive power through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. The Ministers may be chosen from outside the House of Representatives.

The information is provided by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus.

Legislative Power

The Legislative Power of the Republic is exercised by the House of Representatives in all matters.

Term of Office

The term of office of the House of Representatives is five years. A general election must be held on the second Sunday of the month immediately preceding the month in which the term of office of the outgoing House expires. The outgoing House continues in office until the newly elected House assumes office, but during this time the outgoing House does not have the power to make any laws or to take any decision on any matter, except in urgent and exceptional unforeseen circumstances.

Seats

Following a constitutional amendment in 1985, the House has 80 seats - 56 for Greek Cypriot and 24 for Turkish Cypriot Deputies - with Deputies elected by universal suffrage of adults over the age of 18. Direct and secret ballots are held on the same day for both communities. However, since 1964, Turkish Cypriot members have not attended the House and no elections have been held among the Turkish Cypriot community in accordance with the Republic's constitution. Despite this anomaly, the House has kept vacant the seats allocated to the Turkish Cypriot community. These seats remain at the disposal of Turkish Cypriot Deputies should they be elected according to the constitutional provisions.

The President of the House is a Greek-Cypriot and is elected by the Representatives elected by the Greek-Cypriot community and a Vice-President is constitutionally provided for to be a Turkish-Cypriot and is elected by the Representatives of the Turkish-Cypriot community.

In case of temporary absence of the President or Vice-President of the House, their functions are performed by the eldest Representative of the respective community unless the Representatives of the respective community decide otherwise.

The Maronite, Armenian and Latin minorities also elect representatives who attend meetings, though without a right of participation in the deliberations. They are consulted in matters concerning the affairs of their religion groups.

The current electoral law provides for a simple proportional representation system. The number of seats in each constituency is determined by law with constituencies coinciding with administrative districts. Seat allocation for the Greek Cypriot community is as on the table on the right.

Each voter can choose a party or an independent candidate, without having the option of selecting candidates from different parties. Seats are distributed according to the electoral strength of each party.

Procedures of the House
Ordinary sessions run from the beginning of September to July the following year. The House is in quorum when at least one- third of the total number of its members is present. The laws and the decisions of the House are passed by simple majority vote of the deputies present.

Parliamentary Committees
The Parliamentary Committees generally correspond to the Ministries of the Government. They have the right to summon any interested party, authority, organisation, society, association, trade union, person or corporate body to give information and evidence or to express and explain an opinion or view on any bill or subject under consideration.The decisions of committees are taken by majority.

The information is provided by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus.

Judiciary

Independence of the Judiciary - Functioning of Courts

Under the Constitution of Cyprus the judiciary is established as a separate power, independent from the other two powers of the State and autonomous in its sphere of competence, authority and jurisdiction.

The independence and impartiality of the judiciary are a universal norm of the State of Cyprus.

Judicial decisions are subject to review by way of appeal and in cases of deviation from the rules of natural justice, fundamental errors or excess of jurisdiction, by way of orders in the nature of certiorari and prohibition, empowering the Court to issue orders designed to ensure that justice is done in accordance with the law and fundamental rules of justice.  The judiciary functions independently from any source of influence whatever.

Courts’ Structure

Courts are organised on a two-tier system:

 (a) First Instance Courts.
 (b) The Supreme Court.

First Instance Courts

The principal first instance courts are the District Courts operating in every District of the Republic with the exception of the occupied areas. They are composed of District Judges, Senior District Judges and Presidents District Courts.

The other first instance Courts are:

■ The Assize Courts (four Assize Courts continuously in session).
■ The Military Court (one).
■ The Industrial Disputes Court (having three branches).
■ The Rent Control Courts (three).
■ The Family Courts (two operating alternatively in every district of Cyprus).

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the final appellate court of the Republic. It is also vested with jurisdiction to determine the constitutionality of laws, rules and regulations and has sole competence and exclusive jurisdiction to review the legality of acts, decisions or omissions emanating from the exercise of executive or administrative authority.

Moreover, it is vested with original jurisdiction to issue writs known in English Law as prerogative writs that is orders in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari.  A law may entrust original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in a particular field of law; such jurisdiction has been vested in the Supreme Court in admiralty matters.

Judges

First instance judges are appointed, transferred, promoted and are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Judicature (composed of the members of the Supreme Court), whereas Supreme Court Judges are appointed by the President of the Republic.

The judges of first instance Courts serve until they attain the age of sixty-three.  Judges of the Supreme Court serve until they attain the age of sixty-eight.

The information is provided by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus.

Independent Officers

Attorney-General of the Republic

The Attorney-General of the Republic is appointed by the President of the Republic from among lawyers of high professional and moral standard, and holds office until the age of sixty-eight.

The Attorney-General, who takes precedence over all other persons appearing before any Court, is the Head of the Law Office of the Republic which is an independent office and is not under any Ministry. The Attorney-General is the legal adviser of the Republic, of the President, of the Council of Ministers and of the Ministers. He/She has the power, exercisable at his discretion in the public interest, to institute, conduct, take over, continue or discontinue any criminal proceedings.

Furthermore, the President’s constitutional prerogative of remission, suspension or commutation of any sentence passed by a Court in the Republic is exercised on the recommendation of the Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General is Chairman of the Advocates Disciplinary Board and of the Legal Board.

Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus

The Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus is appointed by the President of the Republic for a renewable five-year term. As the chief executive organ, the Governor is responsible for the implementation of the policy of the Central Bank of Cyprus and is also the chairman of the Administrative Council and of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank.

The Public Service Commission

The Public Service Commission is a constitutional body duty-bound to appoint, confirm, emplace on the permanent establishment, promote, transfer, second, retire and exercise disciplinary control over public officers (civil servants), including dismissal or removal from office.

The Commission has a Chairman and four other members appointed by the President of the Republic for a six-year term.

The Education Service Commission

The Education Service Commission has the duty to appoint, confirm, place in permanent posts, promote, transfer, second, retire and exercise disciplinary control over the educationalists of all levels serving in public schools and institutions including dismissal or compulsory retirement.

The Education Service Commission has a Chairman and four other members appointed by the Council of Ministers for a six-year term.

Auditor General of the Republic

The Auditor General of the Republic is appointed, according to the Constitution, by the President of the Republic. He/She is a member of the permanent public service of the Republic and can only be retired or removed from office on grounds similar to those for a judge of the High Court.

The Auditor General is responsible for the control of all disbursements and receipts and the audit and inspection of all accounts of moneys and other assets administered and of liabilities incurred by or under the authority of the Republic. He/she is also responsible for the audit of the accounts of statutory bodies, special authorities and other public organisations, authority or other auditee has used its resources in discharging its functions.

He/She heads the Audit Office of the Republic, which is an independent office not coming under any ministry, and is assisted by the Deputy Auditor General, also appointed by the President of the Republic.

Commissioner for Administration

The Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) is appointed by the President of the Republic on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers and following the approval of the House of Representatives. He/She serves a six-year term and may be re-appointed.

The basic function of the Ombudsman is to review, after the submission of a complaint, an action of the administration, either because it has allegedly violated the human rights of the complainant, or because the action complained against is allegedly contrary to the Law or the rules of proper administration.

As of January 2000, the Ombudsman may undertake investigations on his/her own initiative regarding matters of wider public concern or any matter which concerns the proper functioning of any administrative authority, if so instructed by the Council of Ministers.

The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over all administrative authorities including the Police, the Armed Forces, the Public Corporations and the Local Administrative Authorities. He/She has no jurisdiction regarding the actions of: The President of the Republic, the Council of Ministers, the House of Representatives, the Judiciary, the Attorney-General, the Auditor-General, the Governor of the Central Bank and the Public Service Commission .He/She has no jurisdiction to investigate actions of the administration, which are at the same time pending for review before the Courts or for which an appeal is pending before an administrative authority.

The Law affords the Ombudsman wide discretion regarding the method to be used in the investigation of a complaint.

In the case where the administration does not comply with the recommendation made by the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman may submit the so-called Special Report to the Council of Ministers and the House of Representatives, in which the administration’s non-compliance is officially denounced. Further measures are taken by the Council of Ministers and the House of Representatives.

The Planning Bureau

The formulation and implementation of economic and social development policy in Cyprus has been based on the institution of indicative planning.  Indicative planning in the case of Cyprus has been exercised through the Planning Mechanism.

The Planning Bureau constitutes a service with a separate directorate under the authority of the Minister of Finance. It formulates the long-term development policy of the government and at the same time it exercises control over its implementation. In the framework of Cyprus’ accession negotiations with the European Union, the Planning Bureau was coordinating, at a technocratic level, the whole harmonisation effort of the government.

The Treasury

The Treasury of the Republic has a constitutional role in the management and supervision of all accounting operations in respect of money and other assets administered and of liabilities incurred by or for the Republic, thus supporting the effective implementation of the economic and financial policies.

The Treasury staff is posted to all accounting units of Ministries, Departments and Independent Offices, and is responsible for ensuring the proper operation of all their accounting functions, as well as to the three Directorates of the Treasury, namely:

(a) The Public Procurement Directorate

The Public Procurement Directorate is the centre of excellence within the Treasury of the Republic and has been assigned the role of the Competent Authority for Tenders in Cyprus. In collaboration with all Contracting Authorities it secures the timely execution of procedures for the procurement of goods, services and works in accordance with all relevant Laws and Regulations of the Republic, including projects financed by European Union funds.

(b) The Personal Emoluments and Pension Directorate

The Personal Emoluments and Pensions Directorate is responsible for ensuring that all civil servants are paid the salaries and allowances to which they are entitled, correctly and promptly.   It also ensures that all pensions, gratuities, as well as the provident fund to the Government hourly paid staff are paid on the due date, with adequate accuracy.

(c) The Accounting and Financial Services Directorate

This Directorate has the responsibility for the proper operation and maintenance of the central accounting system implemented across government. It also manages the financial aspects of the Public debt and executes all government payments.

With the accession of Cyprus into the European Union it has become the Paying Authority for European Funds including the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund.

Commission for the Protection of Competition

The Cyprus Commission for the Protection of Competition (C.P.C), established in 1990, is the investigative and decision making authority responsible for the protection of competition. The CPC aims at maintaining an environment of free and healthy competition in the market, by ensuring that any anti-competitive practices by companies do not distort competition.The C.P.C is empowered to investigate concentration by enterprises. In the enforcement of the competition law, the C.P.C is assisted by its Service, which is an independent body in accordance with EU harmonisation guidelines.

The C.P.C is an Independent Authority and has the status of a public administrative body whose decisions are taken on the basis of the relevant Law without any interference by the Government. The C.P.C is composed of the Chairman and four Members, who are appointed by a decision of the Council of Ministers, on the proposal on the Minister of Commerce Industry and Tourism. The Chairman and the Members are appointed for a five-year term that may be renewed.

The Secretary of the Commission for the Protection of Competition is a Public Officer and he is also responsible for the Service of the C.P.C.

The C.P.C aims at fostering and protecting the market conditions which allow economic entities equal opportunities to compete and to gain access to market, and protecting consumers by encouraging lower prices and improving the quality of products as a result of free market forces. Moreover, the CPC aims at raising awareness and understanding of the benefits of competition, through its official website (www.competition.gov.cy), through the media and the organisation of the seminars.

Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation

The Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation was instituted by law as an independent legal entity.In the course of exercising his competence and powers and performing his duties under this Law, the Commissioner acts in such a way as to promote:

a) The provision in Cyprus of telecommunications and postal services for the public as a whole;
b) the interest of consumers, with particular reference to price and quality of telecommunications and postal services provided in Cyprus;
c) the introduction of effective competition in the provision of telecommunications and postal services;
d) the capability to provide or dispose of a wide range of telecommunications apparatus and services.

It is responsible for regulating, inter alia, licensing, interconnection, quality of service, leased lines, local loop unbundling provision, universal service provision, special access, telecommunications’ terminal equipment, and competition in the telecommunications and postal service markets.  The Commissioner manages the Cyprus Numbering Plan, controls retail prices, performs market analysis and imposes obligations on significant market powers and has the power to impose administrative fines.

During 2003, 36 companies were licensed and became active in the provision of telecommunications services.

Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority

In line with Cyprus’ harmonisation process and in order to meet the requirements of the European Union for the liberalisation of the electricity market, the Cyprus Energy Authority (CERA) was set up by Law in July 2003.

The Law provides for the appointment of a Chairman, a Vice-chairman and another member who form the Authority.

The Law provides also for the setting up of an independent Transmission System Operator (TSO) who will give access to the Transmission System to all Power Producers.

It is expected that 33% of the electricity market will be opened up as soon as the relative Licensing Rules are ready.

Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organisation

The Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organisation (CAPO) was created in June 2003 and its main purpose is the distribution and management of European Union funds (EU) directed to Cypriot farmers. Moreover, CAPO has the responsibility and the authority to implement all suitable measures to fulfil its role. More specifically CAPO:

1. Maintains, manages and authorises the Operations Fund as well as the Payments Fund
2. Verifies payments for activities that are financed by the Payments Fund
3. Makes payments to the beneficiaries
4. Keeps accounts concerning payments made to the beneficiaries
5. Has the organisational structure, services and personnel as envisaged in the relevant Law
6. Delegates part or all of the responsibilities for authorisation of payments that concern the Payments Funds from which the following are disbursed:

■ Direct payments to the beneficiaries according to the current measures of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union.

■ Payments to the beneficiaries according to existing Common Agricultural Policy programmes (CAP) covered by Council Regulation 1257/99/EC and Commission Regulation 445/01/EC.
■ Supplementary or state subsidies to the beneficiaries that are borne entirely by the Republic of Cyprus, for which there is prior approval of the European Union, as well as work that concerns the Technical Services, but also the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS).

The organisation is headed by a Commissioner who is appointed on a six-year term.

The Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection

The Processing of Personal Data (Protection of Individuals) Law came into force in November 2001 in the context of the harmonisation process with the Community Acquis.

The responsible authority for the promotion and enforcement of the Law in Cyprus is the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection. The Commissioner is appointed by the Council of Ministers and has specific duties and powers which include,inter alia, the carrying out, on his/her own initiative or after a complaint, audits/ inquiries on any filing system, the examination of complaints relating to the application of the Law, imposing the sanctions provided by the Law, granting the licences for transmission of personal data to third countries, issuing rules, directions for the regulation of specific matters, keeping the Registers provided by the Law and co- operating with other Data Protection Authorities of Member- States of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

The Commissioner is an independent Officer and has the power to exercise supervision on the processing of personal data carried out both in the public and the private sector.

Co-operative Societies’ Supervision and Development Authority

The Co-operative Societies’ Supervision and Development Authority is exercising the supervision/examination and inspection of the Co-operative Societies and is responsible for the promotion and development of the Co-operative Movement in Cyprus based on the provisions of the Co-operative Societies Law and the internationally accepted Co-operative Principles.

The Authority’s primary responsibility is the smooth and effective operation of the Co-operative Societies as well as the development, improvement, expansion and upgrading of their services offered in all sectors of their activity: Credit and Savings , Consumer Sector, Trading of Agricultural Products Sector , Manufacturing Sector , Insurance Sector and other Services . Its primary aim is to provide guidance and assistance to the Co-operative Societies in order to harmonise with the European Union acquis.

Internal Audit Service

The Internal Audit Service was established following the enactment of the Internal Audit Law of 2003.  It is an independent service not coming under any ministry.

It is headed by the Commissioner of Internal Audit who is appointed by the Council of Ministers for a six year period.  The Commissioner reports to the Internal Audit Board that was established by the same Law and is chaired by the Minister of Finance.

The mission of the Internal Audit Service is:

■ to provide an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity within the public sector, designed to add value and improve the operation of the public service

■ to verify whether legislative requirements are complied with, policies and procedures are followed and ensure that resources are used economically, efficiently and effectively.

Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control

Cyprus, being fully aware of the need to rationalise its State aid policy on the basis of the relevant EC rules, introduced the Public Aid Control Law of 2001.

The enactment of the Law was followed by the introduction of legislation on the basis of the EC State aid secondary rules covering significant areas of State aid legislation, such as aid granted to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), for R & D, environmental protection, rescue and restructuring, training, state guarantees and regional aid.

Following the entry into force of the Law, the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control, headed by an independent official, the Commissioner for State Aid Control, was established, with a view to creating a proper framework for the effective control of State aid.

The aforesaid Law provides for the procedural rules enabling the Commissioner to be notified with all the necessary details from the aid granting authorities in order to carry out an ex ante control of all new public aid granted in Cyprus.  In principle, according to the Law, no public aid can be advanced without the prior approval of the Commissioner.  The Law also stipulates that the Office of the Commissioner will be notified of all existing public aid schemes and ad hoc measures.

Tenders Review Authority

In the context of the Government's overall policy to introduce transparency and efficiency in the public procurement process, the Tenders Review Authority (TRA) was established with responsibility to examine appeals lodged with the Authority against actions and decisions of Contracting Authorities which contravene sections of the existing law and which take place prior to the signing of supply, works and services public contracts. The relevant law came into force on 1 April, 2004 and the Authority commenced operations on the same date.

It consists of the President and four other members which are appointed by the Council of Ministers on the recommendation of the Ministry of Finance.

Any interested party that feels that has been aggrieved or treated unfairly by a decision or act of a Contracting Authority, prior to the award of the tender, which contravenes any of the provisions of the existing law as regards the award of a tender and as a result of this act or decision the interested party has suffered or may suffer loss, may lodge an appeal with the TRA against such decision or act.

Law Commissioner

The Law Commissioner is an independent officer of the Republic, appointed by the President of the Republic for a six-year term and directly responsible to him. The institution of the Law Commissioner was established in 1971 on the basis of the English Law Commission.

The basic function of the Law Commissioner is to keep the legislation constantly under review and to make recommendations to the Government and the House of Representatives for modernisation of the legislation and its harmonisation with the acquis communautaire and international Conventions and other legal instruments, in particular, those promoting protection of human rights. Within this framework, the Law Commissioner is responsible for the preparation and presentation of the Country Report to competent international organs which monitor the implementation of human rights Conventions. The Law Commissioner is responsible for the official translation of the legislation   into English, and for the preparation of indexes of the laws and subsidiary legislation, as well as, of treaties and other international instruments binding the Republic. The Law Commissioner may be assigned by the President of the Republic and/or the Council of Ministers additional ad hoc competences.

Tax Tribunal

The Tax Tribunal of the Republic of Cyprus was first established in the year 1999. It consists of six Commissioners, the president and five members, all of whom have knowledge and expertise in legal, tax, economical or accounting matters. It is an independent body, not in any way connected with the Inland Revenue Department. Its prime task is the extra judicial review of the decisions taken by the Director of the Department of Inland Revenue.

The Tax Tribunal considers hierarchical recourses, filed by any person who considers him/herself aggrieved by the assessment made upon him/her, and has failed to agree with the Director of the Department of Inland Revenue. The Tribunal conducts hearings and renders written decisions based on the evidence submitted by both parties. Following the completion of the examination of the recourse, the Tax Tribunal may reach one of the following decisions:

a. to avoid or confirm partly or in wholly the Director’s decision,
b. to amend the Director’s decision,
c. to issue a new decision in substitution of the Director’s decision,
d. to refer the case back to the Director instructing him to take specific actions.

The decisions of the Tribunal are binding on the Director but not on the applicant. However, any person who considers him/herself aggrieved by the decision of the Tribunal, he/she can challenge the decision to the Supreme Court of the Republic.

The information is provided by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus.

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