With a marginal majority, the Plenary Session of the Parliament voted for an amendment to the laws on Municipalities and Communities, so that in case of vacancy for mayor or mayor before the next elections in May 2024, no by-elections will be held.
28 deputies voted in favor and 26 against. This legislation was submitted by the Ministry of Interior after the postponement for two and a half years of the local elections of last December, with the consent of the Parliament, in order to pass the bills for the local government reform. The bills, however, are still pending in Parliament and are expected to be voted on in February, with the result that the previous legislation for holding by-elections for a position vacant one year before the next local elections continues to apply.
According to the law passed today, Thursday, in case of vacancy for mayor or mayor until the next local elections scheduled for May 2024, the position is filled by the deputy mayor or deputy mayor respectively.
Along with 26 votes in favor and 28 against, amendments of the MP of DIPA – Cooperation Marinos Mousioutta were rejected, which would essentially invalidate the law, since they provided for the holding of by-elections in case of vacancy of heads of municipalities or communities.
The passed law also states that the term of office of the present mayors and community leaders is extended until May 2024. In case of vacancy of a municipal or community councilor, by-elections will not be held, unless the number of councilors is reduced below the required number of quorums. members.
The Ministry of Interior deemed these arrangements necessary in order to give the existing councils the necessary time to take the necessary actions during the transitional period until the implementation of the new framework of action and operation of the local authorities in the year 2024.
In his speech before the Plenary Session, MP Marinos Mousiouttas said that the Parliament voted not to hold elections, telling the people that the local self-government reform will be voted in December, something that has not happened yet. Now, he said, an extension is being given to a deputy mayor who was not elected and is appointed until May 2024. . He added that the amendment he submitted clarifies what the current legislation says which is currently being violated.
AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said that the Ministry of Interior is violating the current legislation, while he wants the deputy mayor and the deputy mayor to be appointed by law, without being elected by the community for 2.5 years. This, he said, is a deficit of democracy and he said they are voting in favor of the Moussutta amendments that cancel the bill.
Limassol MP Andreas Themistokleous wondered why some people are afraid of the elections and do not let the deputy mayors or deputy mayors be judged by their deputies. He added that anyone who fears elections should not have a seat in this chamber and said he was voting in favor of the Moussutta amendments.
EDEK MP Kostis Efstathiou spoke about a discount trend that exists, according to which elections should be avoided because they cost, the debate because it is time consuming and the commitment to the democratic principle because it is not productive. These bills, he added, offend the core of democracy, and he wondered where they would stop if they continued on this path. He cited as an example the dismissal of a community leader by the Minister of Interior because members of the Municipal Council disagreed with him, as a result of which the Prefect exercised his duties. He said he was in favor of the Mushyuta amendments, saying that democracy costs money, but it must cost money.
DIKO MP Panikos Leonidou reminded that a few days ago the Parliament decided to postpone the elections in order to work to meet the popular demand for local government reform, which is done with hard work and a lot of responsibility. He spoke in support of the US Alliance for Democracy, but said that maintaining some independence was not the answer.
DISY MP Nikos Sykas said that the conditions that pushed the postponement of the elections are given and that in October the issue of postponing the elections for the next 2.5 years was also included. He also said that the discussion is essential for 14-month elections, since the legislation provides for non-conduct of elections in case of vacancy, one year before the next elections. He also said that if the law is not passed, it may be possible to deliberately hold elections.
Justifying the vote of EDEK, the President of Marinos Sizopoulos, stated that they voted against the bill because they voted to postpone the date of the elections and not to change the procedures of the local government in violation of its legislation.