Saturday December 20, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
10o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Lillikas in kingmaker's role in Cyprus ahead of Sunday's presidential run-off

By Michele Kambas & Deepa Babington

Cypriot political leaders begin a week of bargaining on Monday after the first round of a presidential election failed to produce an outright winner to steer the island nation through its worst financial crisis in four decades.

Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades, who backs a swift deal with EU and IMF lenders on a bailout to avert a Cypriot bankruptcy, won Sunday's vote but fell short of the absolute majority needed to avoid a run-off on Feb 24. He faces Communist-backed Stavros Malas in that round.

Any financial crash in Cyprus could reignite the euro zone debt crisis just as confidence slowly returns to the bloc.

Complicating matters for investors, both leading candidates must court voters who backed runner-up George Lillikas, an independent deeply suspicious of terms for any bailout - which he says may keep Cyprus in perpetual bondage to foreign lenders.

"Our country is at a crucial juncture, Lillikas told his supporters, refusing to disclose which candidate he will back.

"We will support policies which defend the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, and every policy which defends our national interests and is resistant to the will of foreigners."

The anti-austerity campaigner turned in a surprisingly strong performance in Sunday's election, taking 25 percent of the vote and trailing Malas, who campaigned on a pro-bailout but anti-austerity platform, by just 2 points.

A lawyer who has led the Democratic Rally party since 1997, Anastasiades secured 45.4 percent and remains the favorite to clinch a victory next Sunday.

"I will reach out to political leaders, seeking to broaden the public mandate we have even more, Anastasiades told cheering supporters after the first round.

"(It is a mandate) to get rid of a leadership which led us to food rationing, unemployment and misery."

If successful, Anastasiades faces a long list of challenges in convincing European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders to sign off on a rescue before the tiny state faces a 1.4 billion euro debt repayment in June.

He will have to assuage fears Cyprus will never be able to pay back its debt even if given a bailout loan equivalent to the size of its economy, and quell concerns in northern Europe that the island is a hub for laundering money from Russia.

Talks on a rescue, which have dragged on for eight months, have also proven tricky because almost any way of solving the crisis - from restructuring debt to slapping losses on banks - could set a precedent for other troubled states and damage sentiment just as fears of a Greek euro zone exit fade.

European Central Bank board member Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday he hoped a financial rescue agreement that would include privatizations could be reached with a new Cyprus government by the end of March.

Cyprus sought financial help last year after its banks suffered huge losses from Greece's sovereign debt restructuring. The island, which has been shut out of international financial markets since May 2011, needs about 17 billion euros in aid - roughly the same as its gross domestic product.

Reuniting Cyprus after its division nearly 40 years ago into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north and the internationally recognized south run by Greek Cypriots has lagged far behind economic troubles as an election issue.

"This result means that Cypriots have not quite decided if Anastasiades is the man to get them out of the crisis. It will be a tough second round, said Fiona Mullen, an economist at the Sapienta consulting firm.

"It makes it a bit tougher for Anastasiades to persuade EU leaders that Cyprus is on the right path, that they will do what it takes to get a bailout."

With unemployment hitting a record 15 percent and Cypriots still coming to grips with pay cuts, tax hikes and benefit cuts imposed last year in preparation for a bailout, many feel things can only get better from here.

"The situation undoubtedly can't get worse and I expect concrete action (from Anastasiades) to revitalize the economy, to bring recovery and give hope to the people, said 53-year-old doctor Pavlos Drakos.

[Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Monday February 18, 2013 (11:30)  
Tsipras admits there could be hard days ahead
Public medical centers keeping up despite shortages
Scientists to announce Amphipolis skeleton findings next month
PM to take legal action over allegations of bribery in presidential vote
Workers rush to get early retirement
Nine out of 10 workers who retired in the last four months who had belonged to the former special funds of banks and state corporations that have now been incorporated in the Social Security...
Piraeus Containter Terminal goes from strength to strength
Piraeus Container Terminal, the local subsidiary of Chinese giant Cosco Pacific, is expected to handle a total of over 3 million containers in the January-December period of this year. The J...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
Panathinaikos lost 80-67 at home to Barcelona on Friday in a rather meaningless game at the end of the first group stage of the Euroleague, but the encounter will be remembered for the bomb ...
SOCCER
Abidal cuts short playing career at Olympiakos
Former France and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal announced his retirement from football on Friday, a day before his last match. Abidal said he will finish after playing for Olympiakos agains...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
New weapons of diplomacy
Hollywood screenwriters couldnt make it up: That Sony, one of the worlds biggest film producers, would be forced to pull a comedy about the assassination of North Koreas dictator after a ...
EDITORIAL
Oblivious to change
The world around us is undergoing many important changes while we sit around stewing in our own juices. US President Barack Obama is actually talking with Cubas Raul Castro, for example, bu...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Explosive Barca unfazed by Panathinaikos, bomb scare
2. Tsipras admits there could be hard days ahead
3. Public medical centers keeping up despite shortages
4. Workers rush to get early retirement
5. Piraeus Containter Terminal goes from strength to strength
6. Moscovici: Creditor inspections to become less frequent and lighter
more news
Today
This Week
1. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
2. Independent Greeks MP Haikalis claims attempted bribery for presidential vote
3. Greek PM Samaras confronts peril putting his Greek transformation to vote
4. Independent Greeks leader backs MP's bribery claims, threatens to release video [Update]
5. Gov't spokeswoman says bribery claims 'badly-played charade,' heralds legal action if evidence not produced
6. Former premier Mitsotakis to meet President Papoulias to discuss political upheaval
Today
This Week
1. Juncker warns Greeks against voting 'extreme forces' into power
2. Romanos and the dilemma
3. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
4. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
5. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
6. High stakes
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.