Wed, 27 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Cyprus votes to elect new president

Update : 05 Feb 2023, 19:35

Opinion polls say none of the 14 contenders is expected to secure an outright majority in the first round of Cyprus' presidential election to replace Nicos Anastasiades.

Voting in the Cyprus presidential elections began on Sunday as the second term of incumbent conservative President Nicos Anastasiades comes to an end.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Sunday with voting ending at 6 p.m.

Opinion polls predict no contender will secure an immediate outright majority, thereby triggering a runoff vote to be held on February 12.

Three frontrunners

Although there are a record 14 candidates, there are only two women contesting the elections. The winner needs 50% plus one vote to succeed President Anastasiades, who cannot run for a third term.

The forerunners in the elections are former Foreign Minister Nikos Christodouldes, right-leaning Democratic Rally (DISY) party leader Averof Neophytou, and career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis, backed by the leftist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL).

Christodoulides is regarded as the favorite.

"All polls indicate that Christodoulides is going to the second round. I would be very much surprised if he didn't reach it," said Andreas Theophanous of the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs. "And if he goes to the second round, he is predicted to win. Something radical has to happen to change this."

All three main contenders have been close associates of Anastasiades.

Corruption, economy top poll issues

Cyprus was split as a result of a Greek military coup in 1974 and following Turkish military involvement.

The voting on Sunday is only being held in the Greek Cypriot part of the island, also the region where EU law and regulations apply.

The issue of the decades-old division seems to have lost its hold over the polls as the voters now seem to be more concerned about the economy and corruption, especially after the cash-for-passports scandal.

"Corruption is at the core of the discussion, the economy and daily life. The Cyprus problem is a secondary issue," Giorgos Kentas, associate professor of international politics and governance at the University of Nicosia, told the AFP news agency.

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