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Moderate, Irreproachable, and Organized: The Rise of AKEL, 1941-1946

Between its origins in 1941 and the municipal elections in 1946, AKEL, similar to the CCP in Hong Kong, established itself as the most powerful political force in Cyprus and the colonial government’s primary enemy. AKEL did so by taking advantage of great local discontent and geopolitical upheaval caused by the Second World War and the Greek Civil War as well as Britain’s efforts to liberalize its colonial rule to encourage loyalty across the empire. Identifying several key battlegrounds in the imperial Cold War, the British administration, led by Sir Charles Woolley, the governor during most of this period, aimed to counter AKEL’s influence in Cypriot politics, labour, and military forces as well as its connections to the communist-controlled National Liberation Front in Greece.

Reflecting Britain’s traditional and repressive approach to colonialism, the Cyprus government’s efforts during this period to counter AKEL included: Woolley’s requests for greater executive and legal powers; local authorities’ use of force (on at least two occasions, deadly force); and appeals from the colonial service, especially from Roland Turnbull, the colonial secretary, for the proscription of the party. At the same time, Whitehall, while also convinced of the dangers posed by AKEL, was keen to avoid playing into wider communist anti-colonial propaganda and regularly curbed Woolley’s more extreme requests. Nevertheless, the government’s policies failed, and by mid-1946, AKEL’s stunning performance in the municipal elections proved the extent of its resilience and power.

© The Author(s) 2017

C. Sutton, Britain’s Cold War in Cyprus and Hong Kong, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-33491-2_4

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