Nicosia, 12 Feb. Polling stations opened on Sunday in the second round of the Cypriot presidential election, between former Foreign Minister Nikos Hristodulidis and former diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis.
The 1,150 polling stations opened at 07:00 local time (0500 GMT) for around 560,000 voters and will close at 16:00 GMT. It is expected that a few hours later the final results will be known.
There are another 35 polling stations in other countries, such as Greece and the United Kingdom, where large numbers of eligible Cypriots reside.
Last Sunday, in the first round, Hristodulidis won with 32% of the vote, while Mavroyiannis obtained 29.5%. Both candidates are running as independents.
For this second round, Hristodulidis has received the support of several right-wing parties, while Mavroyiannis has the support of left-wing formations, and it is possible that he will also capture part of the conservative vote.
The elections are marked by a schism within the conservative DISY formation of the current president Nicos Anastasiades, who did not want to give any voting recommendation.
Jristodulidis was expelled from this formation last month for “betraying” the internal party line by appearing when DISY had already chosen its leader, Averof Neofitu, to lead the cartel.
The former foreign minister made it to the second round and Neofitu was expelled, which caused great resentment in the formation, with some of its leaders hinting that they would vote for his competitor.
In this way, Mavroyiannis expects not only the support of the progressive vote but also a part of the vote that went to DISY in the first round.
The eighth president of Cyprus will have as main tasks to clean up the image of the country, shaken by several corruption scandals, and to continue the difficult negotiations with a view to a possible reunification of the island.
The country is divided between the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union (EU) since 2004, and an entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Ankara and which emerged in 1974 after the invasion and the occupation of the north by Turkey.