Cyprus elections rivals in tight finish

Ballot boxes in Nicosia It's thought the governing party will be able to continue in coalition

The main opposition party has narrowly won Cyprus' parliamentary elections - though the governing party also increased its vote.

The conservative Disy party took 34.27% of the vote, compared to 32.67% for the communist-rooted Akel party.

The Turkish-controlled north of the island did not take part in the vote.

The BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia says that, unusually, the question of how to reunite the island barely surfaced during the campaign.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish forces invaded the island in response to a Greek-led coup.

The election campaign was one of the most lacklustre since Cyprus gained independence from Britain 51 years ago, our correspondent says.

Turnout was 78% - but this is regarded as low in a country where voting is compulsory.

In the event, both main parties increased their share of the vote compared with the last poll in 2006 - Disy by 3.75% and Akel by 1.36%.

Analysts said this showed support for President Demitris Christofias - who led Akel for two decades - and the way he has handled reunification talks, remained steady.

It was thought Akel would be able to retain its parliamentary majority, even though its coalition partner, Diko, lost ground.

Progress elusive

President Christofias relaunched talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in 2008.

But the talks have become bogged down and produced little in the way of real progress.

Mr Christofias's handling of Cyprus's struggling economy has also come under fierce criticism at home.

Analysts say he will need a strong parliamentary majority to push through the difficult and unpopular decisions he will inevitably have to take in the months ahead.

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