Cypriots are voting Sunday to choose a president who could break a cycle of failure in talks to reunify the ethnically split island-nation — and deliver the benefits of a rebounding economy to citizens still recovering from a severe economic crisis. The incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades, 71, will face off against two main challengers: Nicholas Papadopoulos, the wealthy scion of Cyprus’ late former President Tassos Papadopoulos and leader of the center-right DIKO party, and independent Stavros Malas, who is backed by the communist-rooted party AKEL. Polls show Anastasiades comfortably leading both challengers, though he doesn’t appear likely to pick up more than half of the votes cast in order to win outright and avoid a Feb. 4 runoff. There are some 551,000 elible voters.
The latest polls show a toss-up on which challenger Anastasiades will face in the runoff. Malas, a 50-year-old geneticist who ran against Anastasiades in 2013, has rallied to close up an early lead by Papadopoulos, 44.
Two other challengers — Yiorgos Lillikas, a former foreign minister, and Christos Christou, who leads the far-right ELAM party — trail far behind in the polls.