Cyprus votes for new president amid economic crisis

Nicos Anastasiades (left), Stavros Malas (centre), Giorgos Lillikas (right) prepare for a televised debate (11 February 2013) Nicos Anastasiades (L) leads Stavros Malas (C) and Giorgos Lillikas in the polls

Related Stories

People in the Republic of Cyprus have begun voting for a new president.

Centre-right leader Nicos Anastasiades has a 15-point lead in the polls over his main rival, leftist Stavros Malas.

However, Mr Anastasiades is not predicted to win more than 50% of the vote, which would be required to avoid a run-off vote on 24 February.

The election has been dominated by the global financial crisis. In June, Cyprus became the fifth member of the eurozone to request a bailout.

Shut out of the international financial markets, the cash-strapped government was forced to seek financial help after Cypriot banks suffered huge losses as a result of the restructuring of Greece's sovereign debt.

It has requested some 17bn euros ($22.7bn; £14.6bn) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund - a small amount in comparison with other rescues but roughly equal to Cyprus's gross domestic product.

'Daunting task'

The BBC's Mark Lowen says that the priority for the winner of Cyprus's election will be to finalise the bailout.

Start Quote

The country must be rebuilt... We need a strong leadership to rebuild the country”

End Quote Kyriakos Iacovides Cyprus Mail

Negotiations have been stalled by disagreement between the EU, IMF and the outgoing President Demetris Christofias, leader of the communist Akel party, over how to address the country's debt and who should pay.

Some investors fear that Cyprus will never be able to repay its debt, and many question its commitment to fighting money laundering and its strong links to Russia, which extended a 2.5bn-euro loan in late 2011.

"Everything is at stake, like it has never been before," Kyriakos Iacovides, publisher of the Cyprus Mail newspaper, told the Reuters news agency.

"The country must be rebuilt. Cyprus must be rehabilitated in the EU. We need a strong leadership to rebuild the country."

Mr Anastasiades, the head of the centre-right Democratic Rally (DISY) party, has promised a quick agreement on the bailout. He is close to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who expressed support for his bid while visiting Cyprus in January.

According to the latest polls, his closest rival among the 10 other candidates is Mr Malas, who is backed by Akel, closely followed by Giorgos Lillikas, an independent.

More than 545,000 people are eligible to vote in Cyprus. Another 14,000 Cypriots can vote at embassies abroad.

Voting is scheduled to end at 18:00 (16:00 GMT) and the final result is expected to be announced at around 20:30 (18:30 GMT).

Our correspondent says the new president will also face pressure to help reunite the island, divided between Greek and Turkish communities since 1974.

A recent huge natural gas find has given some hope to the country, but with unemployment soaring and recession biting, whoever wins this election will face a daunting task, he adds.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Leonardo da Vinci Self-PortraitMagical masterpiece

    The Leonardo hidden from Hitler in case it gave him special powers


  • Woman smelling pot of herbsWake up

    Is eating sage better for your alertness than coffee?


  • George Foreman and Muhammad AliThe Rumble

    Was this the most compelling sporting event last century? BBC Sport


  • GunGun dilemma

    What if you had a killer product on your hands - literally?


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • EarthWater world

    Are ‘oceans’ hiding inside Earth? BBC Future investigates

Programmes

  • Francis Rossi, co-founder of band Status QuoHARDtalk Watch

    Status Quo's Francis Rossi explains how alcohol led him to take cocaine

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.