Cyprus presidential election goes to runoff

Cyprus presidential election goes to runoff
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Former foreign minister in lead, leftist candidate comes second in the first round of the presidential election in Cyprus.

None of the candidates in the presidential election in Cyprus on Sunday managed to secure enough votes and two of the candidates, independent Nikos Christodoulides and AKEL-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis, are bound to compete in the runoff.

Former foreign minister Christodoulides took the lead in the first round with 32% of the vote, while Mavroyiannis, backed by the communist AKEL party received 29.6%, surprising many by taking the second place instead of Averof Neophytou, leader of the ruling right wing DISY party who trailed behind Mavroyiannis with 26.1%.

Neophytou had been publicly endorsed by incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades, but his candidacy was overshadowed by Christodoulides, a party member who broke ranks with DISY to run. Opinion polls had shown Christodoulides gaining roughly one-third of the DISY votes.

A total of 404,403 people cast their vote, leaving 28% of voters abstaining.

The presidential election takes place amid rising tension with the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which according to many analysts may be headed towards annexation by Turkey six years after the collapse of peace talks in 2017.

Christodoulides supports reunification and tells that the Guterres Framework, the positions of the UN secretary-general on the Cyprus issue, must be the subject of the negotiation process.

AKEL, one of the two major parties in Cyprus, supports a federal solution, placing particular emphasis on rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots.

In a recent analysis, journalist Hasan Kahvecioglu said in Turkish Cypriot media Halkin Sesi that northern Cyprus is "unprecedentedly being integrated into Turkey."

In his article titled "The foot steps of Turkish Enosis," Kahvecioglu said on 24 January:

"The 'Turkish Enosis' means removal of Turkish Cypriots from this land, their destruction. We are aware that the essential thing in this 'project' is land and conquest; the restoration of the Ottoman [Empire]. Therefore, the Turkish Cypriots can easily be abandoned for the sake of an election victory in Turkey. It looks like the following months of 2023 will be full of fears and anxiety for our fate."

TRNC was established after the invasion of the northern part of the island in 1974 by the Turkish military, and it remains unrecognized by any UN member except for Turkey.