Abstention from voting in the presidential election in Cyprus on Sunday is expected to double after a markedly lower turnout in the first half of the voting process.
Voting started at 7 a.m. in Cyprus as well as in 10 cities in Greece, in five cities in the United Kingdom and in several other foreign countries for expatriate Cypriots.
By 12 noon, when the first half of the process ended, some 38.9 percent of voters had cast their ballot according to official statistics presented by the election commission, down from an estimated 48 percent in the previous presidential election in 2008.
Voting resumed at 1 p.m. and will conclude at 6 p.m. local time.
Just over 10 percent of voters had abstained in the previous presidential election.
Electoral authorities expect a final estimate to have been issued at around 7 p.m. and the final result should be issued by 8.30 p.m. Exit polls at 6 p.m. though will point to a safe conclusion.
Right-wing DISY party leader Nicos Anastasiades is seen as the favorite to win this round, though without an outright majority. He will be joined in the runoff a week later by either Stavros Malas of the governing leftist AKEL party, or by independent candidate Yorgos Lillikas, supported by social democrats EDEK.
Abstention is likely to favor frontrunner Anastasiades and cause problems to the candidacy of Malas, as it is mainly disgruntled supporters of AKEL that were expected to stay at home.
Outgoing President Dimitris Christofias, seen as having his share in the island’s financial crisis, tried to play down the state of the country’s finances just after voting in Nicosia at 11 a.m.
“When I see the Pentadaktylos mountain [occupied by Turkish forces since July 1974 and bearing the Turkish flags] I remember which is the real crisis this country has faced, and that was brought on by treason,” he said in reference to the Athens-inspired 1974 military coup against President Makarios that was attributed to the far right.
“It was a tragedy created by activities of Greek fascists and Cypriot fascists,” he added speaking in English.
All main candidates and party leaders have already cast their vote, as well as a visibly frail former President Glafcos Clerides, who stated he has voted for Anastasiades.