Cypriots vote for next Archbishop

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Cypriot churchgoers will cast their vote Sunday for the next leader of the Cyprus Orthodox Church following the death of Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

Ballots open at 10 am, after Sunday mass, with the faithful heading for 942 polling stations at schools and churches across the island.

Polls are open from 10 am to 1 pm and then again from 2 pm to 6 pm, overseen by state officials.

Christians will vote for one of the six clergy members claiming the throne, with the top three moving to the next stage.

Following the election, a three-day objection period will follow, and the Holy Synod will have a five-day period to go through those objections.

After that, within three days, the synod meets to select the next Archbishop – meaning a final decision by the end of December.

People eligible to vote must be on the electoral catalogue and can exercise their right by showing either an identity card or an election booklet at the polling station.

People wanting to know where to vote can check by entering their ID card number and date of birth.

According to a Holy Synod decision, Russian Orthodox Christians living in Cyprus are excluded from the elections.

The decision was, taken last month, overturned initial plans to allow anyone Christian Orthodox and a citizen of Cyprus for at least a year to vote for a new archbishop.

Almost half of the Holy Synod are running, as six high-ranking clergy have thrown their hat in the ring.

They are the bishops of Limassol Athanasios, Paphos Georgios, Constantia-Famagusta Vasilios, Tamassos Isaias, Morphou Neofytos, and Kyrenia Chrysostomos.

Constantia Bishop Vasilios, Tamassos Bishop Isaias, Limassol Bishop Athanasios and Paphos Georgios are the favourites.

According to a CyBC poll, Athanasios, probably the most popular cleric, leads the race with 30%.

The Limassol bishop was followed by Tamassos Isaias at 14%, Paphos Georgios at 13%, Constantia-Famagusta Vasilios at 11%, Morphou Neophytos at 7% and Kyrenia Chrysostomos at 3%.

Despite who wins the popular vote, the next Archbishop will be elected by the members of the Holy Synod, where alliances will be decisive.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II died after a long battle with cancer; he was buried in Nicosia exactly 16 years after his enthronement on 12 November 2006.