Presidential elections in Cyprus were officially proclaimed Friday by Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou and will take place on February 17, even though the three main candidates have been campaigning for almost four months.
With the result of an outright winner highly unlikely, a second round will probably take place a week later on February 24 among the two front runners.
Candidacies will be submitted on January 18 with opposition leader Nicos Anastassiades leading all polls with an average 30-35% of the votes, supported by his Democratic Rally party and half of the centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO). The smaller party’s other half will be supporting independent George Lillikas, a former trade and foreign minister in two previous administrations, who enjoys the support of the smaller socialist EDEK party.
Incumbent Demetris Christofias, a leading member of the communist AKEL party, will not seek a second term in office and the party will be backing a former health minister, Stavros Malas.
Praxoula Antoniadou, Trade Minister until mid-2012 when she was suspended by Christofias for trying to keep political meddling out of the recent natural gas discoveries and exploration contracts, will also be a challenger and is expected to garner a respectable number of votes, boosted by her participation in a celebrity dance and singing show.
A further five candidates will also be contesting the elections that are critical to the island’s future as an executive president has absolute control over all issues, such as negotiating a bailout with international lenders and trying to resolve the ongoing conflict with Turkey and United Nations-backed peace talks.
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