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Federalism and the 'one-person one-vote principle': political accommodation in Cyprus and the Annan Plan

[journal article]

Moore, Gavin

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Abstract The ‘one-person one-vote principle’ (OPOV) seems to be an intuitively appealing principle, one that is procedurally fair by ensuring equality in votes for all and contributes to the proper functioning of democratic states. Although commonly cited as a cornerstone of democracy, this article argues that OPOV can be a dangerous principle in societies divided by group conflict. Minorities face permanent exclusion, and thus cannot protect their own interests, leading to resentment and destabilization. Moreover, deviation from OPOV is not uncommon in political accommodation, especially in federal arrangements. Opponents of deviation argue that it is both undemocratic and dysfunctional having potentially damaging implications for reconciliation. This article examines these claims in the case of Cyprus under the federal arrangements of the Annan plan. After discussing federalism and Cypriot politics, the article analyses philosophical and international positions on deviation from OPOV in order to assess whether deviation can be considered undemocratic, arguing that whilst not always procedurally fair or equal, deviation should be considered democratic if it encourages the effective participation of minorities. The article then examines the provisions within the Annan Plan to argue that its deviations from the OPOV principle do not hinder its functionality. The article concludes by arguing federalism and deviation from OPOV encourage political accommodation and offer the best chance of reconciliation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Keywords Cyprus; political system; democracy; federalism; electoral system; ethnic relations; ethnic conflict; minority; political participation; conflict management; Turk; Greek; minority rights
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords Annan Plan
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 29-41
Journal Federal Governance, 8 (2011) 2
Issue topic Federalism, reconciliation, and power-sharing in post-conflict societies
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence