Nikos Christodoulides elected Cyprus’s youngest 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, who at 49 turns into the island republic’s youngest chief, 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 celebration AKEL. A mere 15,041 ballots had divided the loser from the winner.

“Tonight an extended however lovely journey has come to an finish,” stated Mavroyiannis, a former chief negotiator in peace talks with Turkish Cypriots, conceding defeat. “It gave me the chance to fulfill hundreds of individuals and hopes and goals for our nation.”

The outcome 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 have a good time in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. {Photograph}: Katia Christodoulou/EPA

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

Christodoulides, who ran as an impartial, 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. “At present Greek Cypriots have voted in a authorities with very nationalist tendencies,” stated 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 more likely 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 most important political drive 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 celebration line, had damaged ranks to announce his candidacy.

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

“The result is right down to conservative voters being unable to beat the ideological barrier of voting for an AKEL candidate,” stated 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 break up with Greek and Turkish Cypriots dwelling both aspect of a UN-patrolled ceasefire line for the reason that 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 essentially the most important 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 may see all Cypriots dwelling peacefully collectively once more,” stated Kitti.

However whereas Christodoulides wooed supporters saying he would renegotiate the idea on which the UN-brokered talks have to this point 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 legislation to hunt one other five-year time period in workplace.

Analysts stated whereas Mavroyiannis would undoubtedly have taken a extra conciliatory stance, Christodoulides had additionally proven he needed to revive talks. In the course of the marketing campaign he recommended that Cyprus might assist Turkey’s need to see its Customs Union upgraded with the EU in addition to visa liberalisation for Turkish residents coming into the bloc in alternate for Ankara agreeing to open up a port for Cyprus-flagged ships.

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