This article analyses the roots, transformations and current workings of political patronage in the Republic of Cyprus during the fifty years since the country’s independence. It attempts to assess how politicians and political parties during the various presidencies have managed to establish their far reaching control over many aspects of Cypriot society through a highly sophisticated system of favours (rusfeti). The establishment of clientelistic relationships between the citizen on the one side and politicians and political parties on the other is at the centre of the analysis. The primary but by far not only areas where clientelistic relationships are formed through rusfeti are the public sector and the semi-governmental organisations where parties and politicians are most capable of exercising influence. It will be argued that a Cyprus Consensus has been established between the political parties but also between individual politicians and a large number of the citizens that sustains and perpetuates the firmly entrenched structures and widespread clientelistic practices as a mutually beneficial arrangement for all sides involved. Political patronage undermines the principle of meritocracy and has led to the establishment of oversized and privileged public and semi-governmental sectors at the expense of the wider Cypriot public, which is footing an increasing bill that the Republic of Cyprus might soon be unable to afford.
rusfeti, clientelism, political patronage, party patronage, political parties, public service, semi-governmental sector, Cyprus consensus
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