Christodoulides wins Cyprus elections

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Nicos Christodoulides, close associate of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, was elected the next president of the Republic, in a runoff on Sunday where he faced former diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis.

Christodoulides, 49, received 51.91% or 204,633 votes, against Mavroyiannis’ 48.09%, with a difference of about 14,000 votes.

Both ran as independents and were the frontrunners of the first round seven days earlier, where a record 14 candidates had come forward.

Christodoulides, a former government spokesman and foreign minister, was supported by an alliance of centre-right parties and the socialist party with a common line being the rejection of the stalled UN talks for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with the Turkish Cypriots.

He has demanded changes before talks are revived.

Christodoulides said he is in touch with members of civil society in the Turkish-occupied north of the island about reviving peace talks, but recognised the “difficult times” the Turkish Cypriot community was going through, after the earthquake cost the lives of an entire high school volleyball team.

His campaign focused on change and reviving the island’s credibility, tarnished mainly by the ‘golden passports’ programme, and won popular support among younger voters.

Mavroyiannis, 66, was supported by the main opposition AKEL, the left-wing party that had been in opposition for the past decade, yet agreed with their ideological rivals at the Democratic Rally (DISY), on the model of a solution to the island’s 49-year division and to reopen negotiations after a six year hiatus.

Opposition

DISY is now officially an opposition party, despite about 70% of its voters supporting Christodoulides in the second round, causing a rift within the party that will decide on a new leadership in March.

The party chairman, Averof Neophytou, finished third in the first round of the elections and is expected to see a leadership challenge for failing to openly side with either Christodoulides or Mavroyiannis.

Angelos Votsis, a former MP and a senior member of the Democratic Alliance (DIPA) that supported Christodoulides, said on Sunday that returning to solving the Cyprus problem will be a priority for the new president, who takes office on March 1.

Mavroyiannis, said he will withdraw from politics but will remain an active citizen. He said he already have a serious responsibility to undertake on the International Law Commission of the United Nations 2023-2027, a body of experts responsible for helping develop and codify international law.