Anastasiades stops short of outright majority [update]

Conservative Nicos Anastasiades and leftist Stavros Malas will contest a runoff for the Presidency in Cyprus on February 24, after the first round of Sunday proved inconclusive.

Although exit polls had shown Anastasiades would secure over half of the votes cast, prompting early celebrations at his camp, the final results revealed a stronger-than-expected showing for independent candidate Yorgos Lillikas who came within 2 percent of entering the runoff.

With 100 percent of the votes counted, Anastasiades, the head of conservative DISY, got 45.46 percent. Leftist AKEL’s candidate Malas advanced to the second round collecting 26.91 percent, edging out Lillikas, supported by the Social Democrats of EDEK, with 24.93 percent.

Opinion polls before the first round had posed the question of an Anastasiades-vs-Malas runoff and found the right-wing candidate likely to win by a large margin.

Preliminary official data on turnout, announced by the head of the electoral commission in Nicosia, showed 82.84 percent of registered voters cast their ballot in Cyprus and abroad, down from just under 90 percent in the previous presidential election in 2008.

“As of tomorrow, I am taking the initiative of a joint campaign for all political forces who believe in change. We will expand the popular mandate even further so as to rid ourselves of a policy that has led us to lining for food,” stated Anastasiades.

“I want to express the desire to find Yorgos Lillikas on our side in a common struggle to stop Anastasiades from getting into power,” said AKEL General Secretary Andros Kyprianou.

"We lost a tough battle. This was only the beginning, our course has only just begun. Stil, tonight we made history, we have demonstrated that the people have power and a voice," said Lillikas, who has been twice voted a parliamentary deputy on the AKEL ticket.