Progressive Party of Working People
|Progressive Party of Working People|
Ανορθωτικό Κόμμα Εργαζόμενου Λαού
Emekçi Halkın İlerici Partisi
|European affiliation||Party of the European Left (Observer)|
|European Parliament Group||European United Left–Nordic Green Left|
|House of Representatives of Cyprus|
The Progressive Party of the Working People (Greek: Ανορθωτικό Κόμμα Εργαζόμενου or AKEL) is a communist political party in the Republic of Cyprus. It is one of the most powerful political forces in the country, and membership is estimated to be 3.25% of the working population, though it may be considerably higher. It was represented by President Demetris Christofias until 2013, the European Union's first communist head of state.
During its time in power between 2008—2013, AKEL successfully enforced numerous socialist measures to maintain the economic welfare of Cypriots in the face of the Great Recession, such as increasing low pensions by 30% and strengthening the welfare benefits given to university students to €12 million per year. €1.2 billion euros were given as welfare benefits during the first three of AKEL's administration, with various improvements made in social welfare provision.
In the European Parliament from 2009-2014 the party is represented by two MEPs. AKEL is a member of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left and has observant status in the Party of the European Left.
AKEL was founded in 1926 as the Communist Party of Cyprus (CPC). The CPC, unlike other Cypriot political parties at the time, opposed the union of Cyprus with Greece, and fought for the independence of the island. In 1931, the party was declared illegal by the British colonial government. It existed as an 'underground' party until being succeeded by AKEL in 1941. The new AKEL, however, did not declare public opposition to a union, but chose to support a gradual process that would allow the transition from being a British colony to a federation with Greece. In the 1950s AKEL refused to support military strikes organized by EOKA, the Organization of Ethnic Cypriot forces, which they accused of collaborating with the occupying British.