Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, supported by right-wing party Democratic Rally, and communist AKEL-backed Stavros Malas will contest the run-off of the presidential election on the island, after the first round on Sunday showed Malas performing better than expected.
With 100 percent of the votes counted across the Republic of Cyprus, Anastasiades garnered 35.5 percent, Malas collected 30.24 percent, centrist DIKO president Nikolas Papadopoulos took 25.74 percent, far-right candidate Christos Christou had 5.65 percent and center-left Citizens' Alliance president Giorgos Lillikas got 2.18 percent.
The second round of the election is scheduled for next Sunday, February 4.
Anastasiades, in a somber mood, thanked voters for “the strong mandate they have given me”, and that “I am ready for a government of wider acceptance. We need to find a way to ensure cooperation; to modernize the state you need cooperation with the parties in Parliament.”
Malas, a former health minister under president Demetris Christofias, smiled broadly and called on voters “to overcome their political views and ideological beliefs and judge the two candidates on their merit, their characteristics and their pledges, and separate the old from the new. Our Cyprus deserves something better, we are not all the same.”
Turnout for the first round was unusually low for a presidential election, at around 72 percent, against 83 percent in the previous election five years ago. Observers said the turnout was reminiscent of a parliamentary election, not a presidential poll that traditionally has a greater participation.
Opinion polls before the first round had shown that in case Anastasiades and Malas were to contest the second round, Anastasiades would win by a margin of more than 12 percentage points.
On the Cyprus question both Anastasiades and Malas favor the resumption of talks with the Turkish side under the auspices of the United Nations, with an aim for a bizonal, bicommunal federation. The other three candidates were against such a solution.