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Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Voters in the mostly Greek Republic of Cyprus in the southern part of the divided Mediterranean island went to the polls to elect a new government on Sunday.

A total of 12 parties are vying for seats in the 56-member House of Representatives. People in the mostly Turkish northern part of the island, a republic only recognized by Turkey, are not permitted to take part in the vote.

The election campaign has been dominated by the ongoing division of the island, now in its 43rd year, and the fall-out from the Greek Cypriot republic's financial crisis.

President Nikos Anastasiades is currently in talks with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci to try and reunify the island.

Cyprus' system of government places the president above parliament. The president is directly elected by the people and appoints the council of ministers. Parliament has a legislative and scrutinizing role.

Conservative Anastasiades' term in office ends in February 2018. The parliamentary election is seen as a test of his popularity. Opinion polls suggest his conservative party (DISY) will be returned as the largest group in the new parliament.

The DISY and a coalition of smaller parties support Anastasiades in parliament.

In the last election in 2011, the DISY took 37.8 per cent of the votes, followed by the left-wing AKEL party on 27 per cent, the Democratic Party DIKO on 10.8 per cent and the socialist EDEK on 7.7 per cent.

Polls opened at 7 am (0400 GMT) and are due to close at 1500 GMT. Exit polls are expected shortly after that, with final results to follow within a few hours.

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