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Cyprus – Former minister Nikos Christodoulides in the lead in the first round


Nikos Christodoulides, former foreign minister of Cyprus, came out ahead in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday. This independent candidate supported by the centrist parties is ahead of Andreas Mavroyiannis, another diplomat supported by the Communist Party. The former head of the diplomacy of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, supported by the centrist parties, came first, Sunday, February 5, in the first round of the presidential election on the divided European island, ahead of another diplomat supported by the Communist Party.

With 32.04% of the vote, Nikos Christodoulides will face in the second round on February 12 Andreas Mavroyiannis, who won 29.58% of the vote, according to official figures.

Averof Neofytou, 61, comes out of the race. With 26.11% of the vote, he suffered an unprecedented failure for a leader of a ruling party, the conservative Disy party. In fourth position, the far-right party Elam won 6% of the vote.

“Today Cyprus spoke. (The country) spoke clearly,” Nikos Christodoulides said on Sunday evening. “I remain faithful to my desire for a government with a broader horizon. We are not leaving anyone out.”

“We are on autopilot mode”

The roughly 561,000 Greek-Cypriot voters had a choice of 14 candidates to succeed 76-year-old right-wing President Nicos Anastasiades.

Worried about corruption scandals and runaway inflation on their nearly half-century-divided island, at least 72.03% of some 561,000 Cypriot voters cast their ballots, slightly more than in the previous ballot in 2018.

“We need a head of state who takes into account families, the working class,” said a 50-year-old voter, Fotos Constantinou, after voting in Nicosia. “We are on autopilot mode and we don’t know where the plane is going.”

Favorite in the ballot, Nikos Christodoulides, 49, Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2018 and 2022, called on Sunday for “unity”, the only way to “really meet the expectations of the Cypriot people”. Supported by the centrist parties, he nevertheless presents himself as an “independent” candidate.

Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, supported by the communist party Akel, is also a diplomat, former chief negotiator in the talks on reunification (2013-2022).

Inflation and corruption

A member of the European Union since 2004, Cyprus has been divided since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the northern third of the island, in response to a coup by Cypriot-Greek nationalists who wanted to reunite the country with Greece. . Reunification talks have stalled since 2017.

The Republic of Cyprus only exercises authority over the southern part of the island, separated by the Green Line, a UN-controlled demilitarized zone, from the self-proclaimed and recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) only via Ankara, where the Turkish-Cypriots live.

First challenge for the future leader: inflation, which reached 10.9% in 2022. Despite a slowdown in January, to 7.1%, the rise in prices, particularly of energy and food, remains in head of concern and the country experienced a general strike at the end of January.

The fight against corruption also dominated the debate, especially after the scandal of the “golden passports”, a device which had to be canceled due to allegations of corruption, tarnishing the image of the government of Nicos Anastasiades.

talks at a standstill

The influx of migrants is another sensitive subject on this island in the eastern Mediterranean. Authorities claim that 6% of the 915,000 people living in the south of the island are asylum seekers. Nicosia criticizes Ankara for orchestrating a large part of the arrival of Syrian refugees and African migrants via the Green Line.

The future president will rightly be called upon to relaunch the peace talks. On this issue, Nikos Christodoulides is considered a “hawk” and wants the EU to isolate Turkey. Andreas Mavroyiannis, he softened his position to be in agreement with the line of the Akel party.

The UN-sponsored diplomatic process has stumbled in particular on the presence of 40,000 Turkish soldiers in the TRNC.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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