Conservative Nikos Christodoulides and his family casting a vote
Photo: KATIA CHRISTODOULOU / EPA
The presidential election in the island republic of Cyprus will go to a run-off on February 12th.
Former Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulidis (49) emerged as the winner of the first round on Sunday, according to the Interior Ministry.
The conservative former chief diplomat comes to around 32 percent of the votes.
His opponent will be the diplomat Andreas Mavrogiannis (66), who is supported by the left-wing party AKEL.
He got almost 30 percent.
He thus won the duel for second place against the representative of the conservative party (DISY), Averof Neofytou (61), who, according to the information, received 26 percent.
Neofytou had been recommended as the successor by the incumbent President Nikos Anastasiades of the conservative ruling party Disy.
A total of 14 candidates, including two women, applied to succeed Anastasiades.
In Cyprus, the President is both the head of state and the head of government.
Election experts and analysts expect intensive negotiations between the two candidates in the runoff election and the loser of the first round, the conservative Neofytou, in the coming days.
Polls give Christodoulidis, who is also conservative, more chances of winning the runoff.
The left-backed Mavrogiannis is at a disadvantage as he now has to court voters from the conservative spectrum and the political centre.
According to experts, division is not a significant issue
Important campaign issues for the more than 500,000 voters in the EU country included the increased cost of living, the fight against corruption and the high costs of irregular migration.
According to its own statements, the Mediterranean island records the most asylum applications per year in the EU in relation to the population.
According to this, six percent of the 915,000 inhabitants of the island are seeking protection.
According to experts, the decades-long division of the Mediterranean island plays a minor role in the election.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974.
At that time, the Turkish army had occupied the north after a military coup by the Greek Cypriots.
Turkey is the only country to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was proclaimed in 1983.
The Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, which is also where the elections took place.
The buffer zone between the two parts of the island is monitored by United Nations peacekeepers.