IN- and out! A man votes by scooter in North Cyprus
The mainly Muslim population of North Cyprus has eagerly adopted Christmas as their own festival of goodwill, albeit lacking any religious portent. As you would expect, Christmas Day is not a significant event. Europeans and others hold to their traditions but most people just go about their normal business.
So, it’s just another Sunday- except today is also election day. The polling stations are open and after weeks of vigorous campaigning, the fate of the country’s municipalities will be decided tonight. All very well and good for democracy – but a blow to those whose Christmas celebrations wouldn’t be the same without a glass or two, because the country must remain “dry” until 6 pm.
The idea is clearly to ensure only sober citizens cast a vote but the blanket ban has hit the hotel and restaurant trade on what should be one of their best sales days. The five-star establishments sold hundreds of Christmas “packages,” all-in stays including drinks before the election date was finalised. British bars and restaurants have likewise prepared turkey dinners and ordered extra alcohol.
The election was set for December 25th after a series of legal challenges caused repeated postponements. In theory, any establishment serving booze today can expect a visit from the police and temporary closure. Happily, the cops are expected to apply their usual easygoing approach and turn a blind eye.
So cheers! And thank you to our most tolerant hosts. Live and let live is the North Cyprus way.