The legislative power of the Republic is exercised by the House of Representatives.
Both Representatives and Ministers have the right to introduce Bills in the House, though Representatives are limited in one respect in the type of Bill which they may introduce. They are constitutionally inhibited from introducing any Bill which relates to an increase in budgetary expenditure.
Since Cyprus has a presidential system, Members of the Government may not be Members of the House of Representatives. The two offices are incompatible, and if a Member of the House is appointed by the President to become a Minister he must relinquish his seat in the House.
The President of the Republic and the Vice-President have the right to final veto on any law passed by the House which concerns the specified issues of foreign affairs, defense and security. As far as other types of legislation are concerned the President and the Vice-President jointly or separately have only delaying power. They may return law or other decision to the House. In such a case the House must again pronounce on the law within fifteen days or, if it concerns the budget, within 30 days. If the House persists in its decision, then the President and the Vice-President are bound to promulgate the law or decision in question by publishing it in the normal way in the Gazette of the Republic.
TERM OF OFFICE
The term of office of the members 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 take any decisions on any matter, unless it is a case of exceptional or unforeseen circumstances.
The House may dissolve itself by its own decision before its term of office expires. Such a decision must also specify the date of the general election which must not be less than 30 or more than 40 days from the date of the dissolution decision and must also specify the first meeting of the newly elected House which must not be later than fifteen days after the general elections.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE HOUSE
The House has 80 seats. According to the Constitution (amended by the House in 1985) 56 Representatives are elected by the Greek Cypriot community and 24 by the Turkish Cypriot community, separately, from amongst their members respectively, by universal suffrage of adults over the age of 21, by direct and secret ballot which should be held on the same day for both communities.
The original allocation of seats was 35 Greek Cypriots to 15 Turkish Cypriots. Since 1964 Turkish Cypriot Members have not attended the House, nor have elections been held according to the constitutional provisions among the Turkish Cypriot Community.
Despite the fact that the abnormality has now lasted more than a quarter of a century, the House has retained the 24 seats allocated to the Turkish Cypriot community vacant. They remain at the disposal of Turkish Cypriot Representatives once they are elected according to the constitutional provisions.
The Maronite, Armenian and Latin minorities also elect representatives who attend meetings without a right of participation in the deliberations. They are consulted in matters concerning particular affairs of these religious groups.
The current electoral law provides for a reinforced representation system. The number of seats in each constituency has been determined by law. The constituencies coincide with the administrative districts. Seat allocations for the Greek Cypriot
Community are as follows:
Nicosia District 21 seats Limassol District 12 seats Famagusta District 11 seats Larnaca District 5 seats Paphos District 4 seats Kyrenia District 3 seats
Each elector may vote for a party or an independent candidate, without having the possibility of selecting candidates from different parties. The parliamentary seats are then distributed according to the electoral strength of each party.
The President of the House is Greek Cypriot and is elected by the Representatives elected by the Greek Cypriot community and a Vice President is constitutionally provided for, who would be a Turkish Cypriot and would be elected by the Turkish Cypriot community.
PROCEDURES OF THE HOUSE
The ordinary session of the House of Representatives lasts for a period beginning in September and ending in July the following year. The meetings of the House take place once a week, usually on Thursdays.
The House is in quorum when at least one third of the total number of its Members are present. The laws and the decisions of the House are passed by a simple majority vote of the Members present and voting.
The agenda must be distributed to the Members at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. The procedures of the House may perhaps best be outlined by explaining the agenda of an ordinary meeting.
The agenda of a normal meeting of the House consists of the following chapters:
Chapter A: Legislation
Chapter B: Introduction of Bills and Documents
Chapter C: Questions and Answers
Chapter D: Subjects tabled by Representatives
The parliamentary committees are set up by the Committee of Selection, which consists of the President of the House as chairman, the Vice President of the House as vice chairman, and eight other members elected by the House.
The committees of the House are representative. Political party groups are adequately represented on them.
The standing committees of the House generally correspond to the ministries of the Government.