Cyprus hopefuls chase votes

The two candidates left in Cyprus’s presidential election, Ioannis Kassoulides and Dimitris Christofias, met with outgoing President Tassos Papadopoulos as they both attempt to court the support of his party, DIKO, ahead of this coming Sunday’s second and final round of polling on the island. Papadopoulos’s defeat left many observers and voters in Cyprus stunned, but Kassoulides and Christofias wasted no time in drumming up support for their campaigns. Kassoulides, of the right-wing Democratic Rally, and Christofias, the leader of the Communist Party, were neck and neck in Sunday’s polling. Kassoulides edged it by the narrowest of margins, garnering 33.51 percent of the vote compared to Christofias who got 33.29 percent. This coming Sunday may be a different story as the winner will likely be decided by the votes of Papadopoulos supporters. Some 20 percent of Papadopoulos’s share of the vote (31.79 percent) came from supporters of his party, DIKO. Another 7 to 10 percent was from the center-right EDEK party. The role of DIKO in particular is likely to be crucial and Christofias and Kassoulides met with the party’s president, Marios Karoyian, in a bid to convince him of the importance of their respective campaigns. Karoyian said that the executive bodies of DIKO would decide which candidate its supporters should back. A lot could depend on what positions the candidates are able to offer to DIKO members in any future government. Sources said that Christofias offered the role of parliament speaker, while Kassoulides proposed the position of foreign minister could go to a DIKO candidate.