Passing through to Cyprus’ second-round of voting put President Nicos Anastasiades a step closer in his re-election bid.
Anastasiades, the country’s conservative leader who has previously said that this is the last political campaign of his career, was the top finisher in Sunday’s first round of presidential elections and will face Stavros Malas, an independent candidate backed by the Communist Party, or AKEL, in a run-off on February 4.
Anastasiades came in first in Sunday’s poll with 35.5 percent of the vote, with Malas received 30.2 percent.
Centrist Nicos Papadopoulos, the son of Cyprus’ late former president Tassos Papadopoulos, placed third with 25.7 percent of the vote, and Christos Christou, the far-right’s candidate, captured 5.7 percent of the ballots cast.
An estimated 28 percent of Cypriots abstained from voting during the Sunday 28 January vote.
The results of today’s election process are “a powerful mandate to continue the course we have mapped out together during the past five years,” said the 71-year-old Anastasiades in statements at the Presidential Palace.
Anastasiades’ government has been given high marks for leading the country’s economy back to growth after it nearly collapsed in 2013 with AKEL’s Dimitris Christofias in power.
It was under Christofias that Cypriot banks collapsed and the island nation’s €10 billion bailout program was launched while Nicosia had first to make hard decisions and impose capital controls. Cyprus also agreed to impose a one-off tax on bank deposits – a first in the eurozone.
Cyprus returned to growth after exiting the programme three years later and saw 3.5 percent growth in 2017. According to EU executive estimates, Cyprus is expected to experience 2.9 percent growth in 2018.
Anastasiades also resumed reunification talks with the Turkish-occupied northern region of the country during his last term. Anastasiades and moderate Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı were unable to agree on a deal, and talks collapsed last July.
Finding a solution to the Cyprus question has been a key component of Anastasiades’ and Akıncı’s administrations, with the latter staking his political career on finding a solution and has predicted that future efforts to reunite Cyprus under a federal umbrella would be exceptionally difficult.
Second round ahead
The number of Cypriot voters who cast their ballot on Sunday was significantly less than in 2013 when turnout was 83.14 percent, an amount considered low at the time. Parliamentary elections in 2016 only had a voter turnout of 66.74 percent, as Cypriots appear to be less interested in politics after the financial crisis.
The last pre-electoral polls showed that Anastasiades would win against either Papadopoulos or Malas in a run-off.