Right-wing candidate leads as Cyprus presidential vote goes into run-off

Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 00:00

Right-wing Democratic Rally candidate Nikos Anastasiades narrowly missed the majority needed to win the presidency of Cyprus in yesterday’s vote and will compete against Communist-backed Stavros Mallas in next Sunday’s run-off.

Mr Anastasiades (66), a lawyer, won 45.5 per cent of the vote compared with 27 per cent for Mr Mallas and 25 per cent for third-placed independent candidate, Georgios Lillikas.

Eleven candidates, including two women, stood for the post.

Incumbent Demetris Christofias of the Communist Akel party did not run for a second term.

The new president must negotiate a punitive financial rescue package to rescue the island from bankruptcy and will also have to deflect money- laundering allegations from Dutch and German politicians who claim Cypriot banks accept deposits from Russian oligarchs.

Bailout negotiations

Backed by the European People’s Party parliamentary bloc, Mr Anastasiades is seen as the best choice to negotiate the bailout with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, since he has the lukewarm blessing of German chancellor Angela Merkel.

She visited the island in January with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Although the sum required for the bailout, $17.5 billion, equals the value of the country’s economy, Cypriots argue that they seek a loan that will be repaid once revenue begins to flow from massive offshore reserves of natural gas and oil due to be developed over the next five years.

Reaching an accommodation has been difficult because Mr Christofias has refused to confront the country’s powerful trade unions and businessmen.