NICOSIA: The race for president in Cyprus will go to a runoff vote after incumbent conservative Nicos Anastasiades won the first round but failed to muster an outright majority in a poll overshadowed by high abstention.
With all of the votes counted, Anastasiades secured 35.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, ahead of his closest rival Stavros Malas, an independent candidate backed by the left-wing AKEL party, who earned 30.2 percent.
Centrist Nicos Papadopoulos came third with 25.7 percent.
Ahead of the vote, opinion polls had suggested a tight race between Malas and Papadopoulos.
Anastasiades and Malas will now contest the runoff vote on Sunday, February 4, in a repeat of the last presidential elections in 2013.
At Anastasiades’s campaign headquarters in central Nicosia, supporters draped in Cypriot, Greek and party flags chanted slogans as their leader arrived.
“I’m here to express my gratitude for all your support, so that the people give us a clear mandate that will secure [our victory] next Sunday,” Anastasiades, 71, told the gathered crowd.
Christodoulos, a 26-year-old supporter of Anastasiades, said he was “very satisfied” with the result.
“I hope the same [thing] happens a week from now so that the country moves forward. We don’t want to return to the past,” he told Al Jazeera. “Young people want a modern and unified Cyprus.”