OPINION

Electoral games in Cyprus

According to two reliable opinion polls, incumbent President Glafcos Clerides will most likely lose Cyprus’s upcoming presidential elections. Opposition candidate Tassos Papadopoulos will gain a considerable lead in the first round (42-42.5 percent) while the bid of Attorney General Alecos Markides is expected to hold Clerides to a maximum of 30.4 percent. The most decisive factor, however, is voter indications for the runoff. According to a poll conducted by RIK state television, Papadopoulos will get 47 percent and Clerides a mere 41 percent. Papadopoulos is backed by the center-right DIKO party, the communist AKEL and the Social Democrats (after their leader Yiannakis Omirou dropped out of the race). He should be getting the overwhelming support of those who will vote for nationalist New Horizons party leader Nicos Koutsou in the first ballot. This candidacy has attracted a small percentage but, politically speaking, it is perhaps the most straightforward. Clerides has the backing of the right-wing DISY party, but he hopes to cash in on the positive impact from his handling of Cyprus’s EU accession and the Copenhagen decision. The incumbent president is seen as more suitable than his opponent to tackle the Cyprus issue (38 against 34 percent) and the remaining EU accession process (36 against 33 percent). Clerides’s close aides, particularly government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, have indulged in relentless scaremongering. They claim that a Papadopoulos victory would negatively affect the diplomatic momentum and threaten the island’s EU entry. Polls indicate that their propaganda has had little effect on the balance of power. Not even the current president can rest his hopes on the undecided and those who do not respond. Most of them usually opt for the opposition.