Presidential polls in Cyprus were inconclusive on Sunday, with no candidate winning an overall majority, forcing a runoff on 4 February between the incumbent, Nicos Anastasiades, and Stavros Malas, a communist-backed former health minister. Anastasiades, leader of the conservative Democratic Rally (Disy) party, came in first with 35.50% of the vote but fell short of the 50% required to win outright. In a repeat of the island’s last presidential election, he now faces Malas, who ran as an independent with the support of the Progressive Party of Working People (Akel). The geneticist won 30.35%, sparking scenes of jubilation among supporters.
The Diko party leader, Nikolas Papadopoulos, whose nationalist views are seen as anathema by ethnic Greeks still hoping to unite war-divided Cyprus, trailed with 25.74%. “I know a lot of friends feel bitter and disappointed, so do I,” he said once the results were announced.
His failure to make it into the second round was greeted with relief by voters desperate to bridge the divide with their Turkish Cypriot compatriots. The European Union’s most easterly member state, Cyprus has been partitioned since a rightwing coup for union with Greece prompted Turkey to invade in 1974.
“Two-thirds of Greek Cypriots went for candidates who openly support a federal settlement,” said the bi-communal lobby group Unite Cyprus Now.