Right-wing candidate leads in Greek Cyprus

Right-wing candidate leads in Greek Cyprus

NICOSIA - Reuters
Right-wing candidate leads in Greek Cyprus

Opposition candidate Anastasiades (R) receives support from German Chancellor Merkel. EPA photo

The main opposition candidate, Nicos Anastasiades of the right-wing Democratic Rally Party, is leading the race to become Greek Cyprus’s president, an opinion poll showed on Jan. 18, as 11 hopefuls submitted bids for the Feb. 17 election.

The winner of the vote, which may extend to a run-off on Feb. 24, will be mandated to negotiate with prospective lenders for a multi-billion-euro bailout for the island.

Damaged by its exposure to Greece, Greek Cyprus applied for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union last year.

“Our manifesto offers hope and prospects for the country through a national unity government,” said Anastasiades, running more than 10 points clear of his closest rival according to the latest opinion poll.

In the survey for the state broadcaster, Anastasiades polled 38 percent compared with 23.7 percent for Stavros Malas, an independent backed by the now-ruling Communist party AKEL, and 19.7 percent for independent candidate George Lillikas.

Incumbent President Demetris Christofias, a communist whose tenure has seen economic demise and record-high unemployment at 14 percent, is not seeking re-election. Conclusion of a bailout deal with lenders is awaiting the calculation of the precise recapitalization needs of Greek Cypriot banks.

Merkel’s backing

Talks have also been overshadowed by concerns from some European nations, notably EU paymaster Germany, of an opaque banking system which may encourage money laundering.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Greek Cyprus last week to lend support to Anastasiades’s bid, said the island must move ahead with reforms.

Greek Cyprus has a presidential system of government
where the head of state wields executive power.