Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 9


Voter support for radical left in last elections (2021): – 3.4 %.
Voter support for radical right in last elections: + 0.2 %.
Populist or radical parties in government (2023): none
Number of radical or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/6.

01 Speakers

Cyprus is the only country in the EU with a presidential system, where the president serves as both the head of state and the head of government. The political parties still play a significant role, with the party system including both a large communist party and high-nationalist anti-establishment parties.

The Cypriot Progressive Party or Working People (AKEL), is one of Europe’s most successful communist parties. AKEL traces its origins back to the Communist Party of Cyprus, founded in 1928 during British colonial rule. Despite being illegal at the time, the communist party was accused by nationalist organizations in Cyprus of collaborating with the colonial authorities. Since independence, AKEL has consistently been one of the top two parties in every election except in 1985 when it finished third. 


In 2008, Demetris Christofias, who had been party secretary of AKEL for two decades and once described the fall of the Soviet empire as “a crime against humanity”, became the first ever communist head of state in an EU country when he won the presidential election. He claimed that although a proud communist, he would leave the free market alone. He won the election mostly on his promise to start negotiations and try to unify the divided island. Although his government made some progress, the unification process was overshadowed by the emerging financial crisis. Christofias tried to handle the crisis by raising taxes and seeking loans from Russia, rather than implementing the austerity policy that the EU requested in exchange for an aid package. He did not seek reelection in 2013 and AKEL has lost support in every election since then. In the spring of 2021, AKEL saw its worst result ever in a national election with only 22 percent of the vote. However, it is still the second largest party in parliament and thus the leading opposition party.

If there ever was one, AKEL is a pragmatic communist party. It supported Cyprus EU membership in 2004 but was against introducing the euro in 2008. The party supports a federal solution for the division of Cyprus and praises the economic system of Cuba. The party claims on their website that AKEL at this stage “does not seek to implement its long-term programme for a radical transformation of society”, but also that “this of course does not mean that we desert our socialist vision and orientation”. The text continues:

“AKEL is strongly convinced that despite the blow inflicted on the labour and communist movement internationally, the Marxist-Leninist theory, the way it should be developed and renewed with the continual progress of knowledge and economic, social and political development, remains a firm ideological base of the struggle for a better world, a world of peace, democracy, social justice and socialism.”

So even though the communist ideology does not seem to guide the party in daily politics, it is clear that AKEL legitimises anti-democratic ideas and opinions. In the European Parliament, AKEL is a member of the GUE-NGL group. Stefanos Stefanou is general secretary of the party since 2021.

Demetris Christofias.

On the far right, the turnover of small national conservative parties has been high. These usually combine a hard line towards the Turkish side of the island with relatively pro-European agendas. Parties such as Neo, Evroko and the Solidarity Movement (KA) have won seats in elections of the 2000s without making any major impact on the country’s politics. None of them have ever been in government.


The National Popular Front (ELAM), a greek-cypriotic ethno-nationalist party, has been slightly more successful. It is a far-right party, founded in 2008. From the start, ELAM had close connections to the neo-nazi, and now illegal, Golden Dawn (XA) party in Greece. In fact ELAM was originally to be considered as a Cypriot branch of XA. For example, before registering as a party, it was called “Golden Dawn: Cypriot Kernel”. Ilias Kasidiaris, the convicted leader of XA, said that “ELAM is the Golden Dawn of Cyprus”. However, in the summer of 2020, ELAM cut its financial ties to XA after previously receiving extensive support.

ELAM opposes any federal solution to the Cyprus dispute, instead arguing that Cyprus should be united with Greece. ELAM is highly conservative on social issues and somewhat left-leaning on economic issues. It is opposed to globalization and migration and wants a total ban on all forms of Muslim headscarves. ELAM is against legalization of Cannabis and wants the president to consult with the Church of Cyprus on important issues. They want to abolish welfare and subsidies for ethnic Turks.

Christos Christou.

ELAM scored its best result ever in the parliamentary elections in 2021 and became the fourth largest party with 6.8 percent. However, it did even better in the 2019 EP election, when the party won 8.3 percent. It has gained popularity following the same recipe as Golden Dawn in Greece: by blaming the economic crisis on immigrants, and by taking an active part in charity work; its members volunteering with fighting forest fires, donating blood and other charitable works. Christos Christou has been president of the party since its foundation. In the presidential elections in 2018 and 2023, Christou won 5.6 and 6 percent respectively.


The democratic legitimacy of ELAM can be questioned. Supporters and members have been involved in several acts of violence against immigrants and students at the University of Nicosia. Christou has hinted that the party may be open to violence if needed.

The current strategy of the party leadership is widely described as an attempt to become a more mature version of the KA; maintaining their anti-establishment position while simultaneously moderating its rhetoric. After the 2021 election, the president of Cyprus proposed a coalition government with the Democratic Rally party and ELAM. The offer was rejected by ELAM.

EP elections

Number of authoritarian or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/6


In the European parliamentary elections, AKEL has won two seats in every election since Cyprus became a member in 2004. In 2009, Niyazi Kizilyurek of AKEL became the first ethnic turkish-cypriot to be elected to EP, and thus the first from the turkish-cypriot community to hold elected office since 1963. All AKEL MEP:s have joined the GUE-NGL group.


Since the 2021 election, support for ELAM has increased considerably, according to the few polls in the country. In the beginning of 2024, ELAM had 17 percent of the voters.

AKEL summary

Economics: LEFT
Social issues: PROGRESSIVE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM

ELAM summary

Economics: LEFT
Social issues: CONSERVATIVE
Democratic credibility: LOW