Nikos Christodoulides elected Cyprus’s president with 52% of vote | Cyprus

Supporters of Christodoulides celebrate in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.

Nikos Christodoulides, a former international minister, has been elected the eighth president of Cyprus, beating the profession diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis in a high-stakes, carefully fought race.

Christodoulides, 49, gained 51.92 per cent of the vote in contrast with 48.09 per cent for his opponent, who had been backed by the leftist social gathering AKEL. A mere 15,041 ballots had divided the loser from the winner.

“Tonight a protracted however stunning journey has come to an finish,” mentioned Mavroyiannis, a former chief negotiator in peace talks with Turkish Cypriots, conceding defeat. “It gave me the chance to satisfy hundreds of individuals and hopes and desires for our nation.”

The end result was instantly met with jubilation by supporters of the brand new president, as fireworks lit up the Nicosia sky and supporters clapped and danced.

Supporters of Christodoulides celebrate in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.
Supporters of Christodoulides rejoice in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. {Photograph}: Katia Christodoulou/EPA

However in an election stuffed with uncommon drama and suspense, it was additionally fast to elicit dread.

Christodoulides, who ran as an unbiased, had been backed by teams that take an brazenly hostile stance on talks to reunify the Mediterranean island.

For a lot of his victory dashed hopes of an answer being discovered within the close to future to the decades-long dispute that has left Cyprus, the EU’s most easterly state, bitterly divided. “Right this moment Greek Cypriots have voted in a authorities with very nationalist tendencies,” mentioned Cleopatra Kitti, a Cypriot coverage adviser on the Athens-based thinktank Eliamep. “It’s unlikely to again a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation any time quickly which implies that is prone to be one other wasted alternative.”

The election got here per week after Christodoulides emerged because the frontrunner in a primary spherical that additionally pitted the 2 candidates towards Averof Neofytou, the chief of the centre-right DISY, in energy for the final 10 years.

Neofytou’s defeat marked the primary time that DISY, the largest political pressure within the island’s internationally recognised republic, had didn’t make it to a runoff. The humiliation had been broadly pinned on Christodoulides, who, refusing to toe the social gathering line, had damaged ranks to announce his candidacy.

Though main DISY figures had signalled they’d again Mavroyiannis, the social gathering’s refusal to formally endorse both candidate had thrown the race large open.

“The end result is right down to conservative voters being unable to beat the ideological barrier of voting for an AKEL candidate,” mentioned Christoforos Christoforou, a number one analyst specialised in electoral behaviour. “Fears over AKEL’s administration of the economic system are additionally clearly nonetheless very actual,” he added referring to the island’s banking disaster a decade in the past, which has been broadly blamed on the disastrous dealing with of the economic system by the leftwing then president, Demetris Christofias.

Cyprus has been ethnically cut up with Greek and Turkish Cypriots residing both aspect of a UN-patrolled ceasefire line because the 1974 Turkish invasion. Ankara despatched in troops after a coup engineered in Athens sought to unite the island with Greece.

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Within the intervening years reunification efforts have repeatedly failed. With reminiscences of peaceable coexistence fading quick, the ballot had been described as probably the most vital election since 1960 when the previous British colony gained independence.

The final spherical of negotiations which introduced each communities in addition to the island’s guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the UK – across the desk collapsed in disarray in Switzerland in 2017. Not since talks started after the invasion has a hiatus been as lengthy.

“The longer we take to settle this, the additional we’re from a decision that will see all Cypriots residing peacefully collectively once more,” mentioned Kitti.

However whereas Christodoulides wooed supporters saying he would renegotiate the idea on which the UN-brokered talks have up to now been held, he’s additionally aware that Greek Cypriots should regain the belief of the worldwide group if the peace course of is to be resurrected. Outgoing president Nicos Anastasiades, in energy since 2013, had been blamed for obstructing an answer on the eleventh hour. The chief had been unable by regulation to hunt one other five-year time period in workplace.

Analysts mentioned whereas Mavroyiannis would undoubtedly have taken a extra conciliatory stance, Christodoulides had additionally proven he wished to revive talks. Throughout the marketing campaign he instructed that Cyprus might help Turkey’s want to see its Customs Union upgraded with the EU in addition to visa liberalisation for Turkish residents getting into the bloc in alternate for Ankara agreeing to open up a port for Cyprus-flagged ships.

“If the EU is sensible it is going to work on that suggestion as a result of it might break the logjam,” mentioned Fiona Mullen on the Nicosia consultancy Sapienta Economics.