Clocks go back an hour in Cyprus and Britain, but not Turkey

On Sunday, 29 October, clocks will be going back in various parts of the world as part of Daylight Saving Time (DST). This includes Britain, North and South Cyprus. The decision by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to return DST means there will now be an hour’s difference with Turkey, which decided to end the practice of putting clocks forward and back in 2016.

Last year, there was uproar in Cyprus when the TRNC coalition government decided to follow Turkey’s lead and not switch the clocks back an hour in October. It meant two different time zones in Cyprus, with the Opposition parties, trade unions, parents and business community all complaining about the situation.

At the time the government, comprising members of the National Unity Party and Democrats Party (the UBP-DP) had tried to defend themselves, stating that DST was a colonial hangover from British rule and that, “With transport at the head [of the list] our sole [direct] connection is Turkey. So using the same time zone is a natural need.”

Initially, the Coalition Government had indicated it would continue to follow Turkey’s lead on DST in 2017. However, in a surprise about-turn on 17 October, the TRNC Cabinet decided to abandon year-round Summer Time and instead re-adopt DST. The move was well received by people on both sides of the island. There has been no official response from officials in Ankara, but it is likely TRNC Ministers would have consulted them before taking their decision.

For those in Turkey, who won’t be turning their clocks back an hour, from Sunday they will be an hour ahead of Cyprus, and three hours ahead of Britain.

What is Daylight Saving Time?

British builder William Willett championed Daylight Saving Time. Photo by Elliott & Fry, vintage print, copied 1957.

The concept was first introduced by William Willet, a British builder who published a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight” in 1907. In it, Willet promoted the concept of British Summer Time, urging the nation to change its clocks during the year to prevent wasting valuable daylight hours in the morning during the winter months. Germany was the first country to adopt his proposals, followed a few months later by the UK with its Summer Time Act of 1916.

The practice quickly took hold and over the past century virtually all parts of the world bar Africa adopted DST. However, in recent years its popularity has waned in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Today, DST primarily occurs in European and North American countries.

For these more northerly territories, DST helps the day start with more light. Without DST, dawn in large parts of Scotland, for example, would arrive closer to 10am in winter. So while many dislike long dark nights, prior experiences show that more light in the mornings are safer during the winter months.