Cypriots vote in runoff presidential election

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-04 21:25:55|Editor: pengying
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Leftwing candidate for Cypriot presidency Stavros Malas votes at a polling station in Nicosia, Cyprus, Feb. 4, 2018. Cypriots started voting on Sunday in the runoff presidential election, a replica of the runoff five years ago in which center-right candidate Nicos Anastasiades beat leftist Stavros Malas with a comfortable margin. (Xinhua/PIO)

NICOSIA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Cypriots were voting on Sunday in the runoff presidential election, which analysts say is becoming more complicated compared with the last runoff five years ago.

Although seen as a replica of the runoff five years ago in which center-right candidate Nicos Anastasiades beat leftist Stavros Malas with a comfortable margin of about 57 percent, the version this time is not such easy.

"Thinks are very different this time, because unlike 2013, the two candidates go into the second round without any electoral alliances," Yiannis Mavris, an electoral analyst for state television said.

Under Cypriot law, opinion polls are not allowed one week before election day.

"But even if opinion polls were allowed, it would be close to impossible to catch the trend as the situation changed by the day and most of the undecided voters made up their minds within the last two or three days at the most," Mavris said.

Supported by center-right party Democratic Rally, Anastasiades is seeking a second term. Polls show 35.51 percent of the vote in the first round for Anastasiades compared with 30.24 percent for Malas, who is supported by the left-wing AKEL opposition party.

But the center-of-the-road parties which failed to push their candidate through to the runoff with 25.74 percent of the vote advised their supporters to vote for none of the candidates.

Only two small parties with a share of about 8 percent of the vote called on their supporters to vote for either of the candidates.

"We may even witness a new kind of voting in the runoff in the form of what I call a 'revenge voting', that is casting votes against either of the candidates to avenge for the failure of the center parties candidate to pass through to the runoff," Mavris added.

He noted another further reason of uncertainty, a high number of voters who shunned the polling stations in the first round. Almost one in three voters did not cast a ballot.

"There is no indication whatsoever how many will care to vote in the runoff and how they will behave," said Mavris.

The electoral service said that after four hours of voting, 10.9 percent of voters have cast ballot papers, a little higher than the 10.5 percent in the first round, but lower by just over 1 percent compared with the 2013 runoff.

Anastasiades focused his campaign on economy, which is according to him near melt-down due to high spending and deficit left by the previous left-wing government, in which his rival Malas was a health minister.

Malas focused his campaign on accusing Anastasiades of making the people suffer by accepting an austerity economic program demanded by international lenders and of being incapable of negotiating a Cyprus solution.

Despite the different economic and social policies the two candidates have, they hold remarkably close views on future solution of the Cyprus problem, which is a reunification in a federal, two-community state of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Voting stations opened at 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT).

Exit polls are expected shortly after the closing of electoral stations.

The electoral service said that final results are expected at 7:30 p.m.

The new president will be nominated during a ceremony scheduled for 10 p.m.

KEY WORDS: Cypriots