By Panos Sfaelos∗
The first round of the Presidential Elections in Cyprus last Sunday brought current President Nikos Anastasiades first in ballots, although abstinence was particularly high in Sunday’s Cypriot elections, reaching 28.6%, 12 points higher than in the 2013 elections. With 92% of the ballots scaled, Nikos Anastasiades (DISY) received 35.6%, Stavros Malas (AKEL) 30.2%, Nicholas Papadopoulos (DIKO) 25.7% and Giorgos Lillikas 2.2%. Fourth political power is the far right (ELAM) with 5.7%.
AKEL has shown an important rise in votes. In the second round that will take place on February 4th, Anastasiades and Malas will compete. Nicholas Papadopoulos’s votes are now sought after by the two candidates. It is true that Papadopoulos has a very good lead in Paphos.
The electoral climate before the ballot box
According to newspaper Phileleftheros, the election campaign ended in a controversial manner in high tones, which is a matter of concern as to how things will evolve in the second round, which will be a whole new show but without having left open channels of communication for cooperation.
Especially in the Cyprus issue, where things are now marginal, the candidates did not present “new and imaginative” ideas, except for some reports by Nicholas Papadopoulos in a more rational organization of the talks. However, he did not explicitly state whether he accepts as a form of a solution to the Cyprus problem the Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation (PBO), which his partners reject.
President Anastasiades and Malas support the continuation of the negotiations so far, while Papadopoulos advocates the cancellation of the convergence, which has been achieved since 2008. Papadopoulos said he considers the presidential “referendum” on the Cyprus problem, between the line of Anastasiades and Malas and the “new strategy” it proposes. He also said that he does not disagree with the federation but with the content of the solution that is being launched, namely on governance, property, and especially security and guarantees.
The differences between Anastasiades and Malas are mainly traced to tactics. President Anastasiades defends his policies, especially last summer at Gran Montana, while Stavros Malas criticises him, arguing that he missed an important opportunity for an agreement.
Of the five key candidates, the only one who clearly rejects a federation solution is Christos Christou of ELAM, without again proposing a new approach.
Nicholas Papadopoulos and Giorgos Lillikas’s suggestions for making better use of the National Council with specific structures and procedures, as well as for the need for experts to be involved in the management of the Cyprus problem, and more broadly in foreign policy, stand out from the positions of the candidates.
Lillikas is in favor of holding a referendum on the form of a solution to the Cyprus problem, a position that Mr Papadopoulos and Christos does not seem to reject.
The history of the Cypriot elections
In the 58 years of the Republic of Cyprus, of which 44 suffered the consequences of the Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation, with more fundamental partitioning of its territory and the deprivation of its sovereignty and independence, today’s presidential election is the thirtieth third in its history .
The first presidential elections took place in February 1959, a few months before the official establishment (August 1960) of the Republic of Cyprus.
The constitution, as stood in 1960, was presidential with a Greek Cypriot president and vice-president of the Turkish Cypriot community. The President was elected by the Greek Cypriot community and the vice-president by the Turkish Cypriots. The first president was Archbishop Makarios G and the first vice-president, Fazil Kuchuk. This until the bi-communal riots of 1963-64, when the Turkish Cypriots withdrew into enclaves and formed their own administration and since 1983 unilaterally declared in the northern part of Cyprus (about 37% of the island military-occupied by Turkey) the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)”, which is recognized only by Ankara. About 5% of Cyprus is controlled by the United Nations, it is the “dead zone”, and the United Kingdom, which maintains the areas of the Akrotiri and Dekeleia bases. Since 1964, according to the law of necessity, the Republic of Cyprus is governed only by a Greek-Cypriot President and Greek MPs only.
Presidents are elected for 5 years. President is the candidate who will secure 50 + 1% of the votes. If this is not possible, a second round, a week later, is made between the two candidates who scored the most votes in the first round. Since 1959 Makarios has been elected since the first round. In 1959 his candidate was Ioannis Clerides, father of Glafkos Clerides, who was supported by AKEL. Makarios got 66.29%.
Its 1965 presidential sessions were postponed due to the inter-communal clashes of 1963-1964 and extended for three years to Makarios. His presidential candidates in 1968 were Archbishop Makarios and his doctor, Takis Evdokas. Makarios was elected from the first round with 96.26%.
In 1973, Makarios was re-elected without any ballots, because he did not have a non-candidate. He remained chairman until his death on 3 August 1977. In the elections of September 1977, with the agreement of all political forces, Spyros Kyprianou was elected for the remainder of the Makarios mandate until February 1978. In the 1978 elections he was elected Spyros Kyprianou without a candidate.
The 1983 candidates were Spyros Kyprianou, Glafkos Clerides, Vasos Lyssarides. He was elected the first in the first round with 56.54%. The Presidential Elections of 1988 were claimed by George Vassiliou, Glafkos Clerides, Vassos Lyssaridis, Thrasos Georgiades. G. Vasiliou won the second round with 51.6%.
The 1993 candidates were: George Vassiliou, Glafkos Clerides, Paschalis Paschalidis, Georgios Mavrogenis, Giannakis Taliotis. President, although Vassiliou was ahead with a big difference, Glafkos Clerides was elected to the second round with 50.31%. Clerides won again in 1998 in the second round with 50.82%.
The presidential elections in 2003 were one round. Tassos Papadopoulos won with 51.51% win.
In 2008, Demetris Christofias was elected in the second round with 53.36%. It was the first time in AKEL’s history that the party fell autonomously and even with the party’s general secretary.
In the presidential elections of 2013, candidates were: Nikos Anastasiades, Stavros Malas, George Lillikas, Georgios Charalambous, Praxoula Antoniadou-Kyriakou, Lakis Ioannou, Loukas Stavrou, Makarias – Andri Stylianou, Solon Grigoriou, Costas Kyriakou, Andreas Efstratiou.
Nikos Anastasiades was elected president in the second round with 57.48%. Stavros Malas, supported by AKEL, took 42, 52%.
These elections show that Malas has stabilized his percentage while Anastasiadis’ percentage was reduced. Anastasiadis paid the price for the bail in of 2013. But of course Anstasiadis received from Christofias an economy in deficit. He managed to stabilize the economy according the IMF programme and the economy has now started to recover. However, Malas argued that inequalities in Cyprus have widened during Anastasiadis presidency. Malas suggested that his government would improve industrial relations and emphasise on social welfare state. On the Cyprus problem Malas argued tha Anastasidi’s negotiations did not mange to show Turkey’s intolerance. Malas regards that Anastasidis is not stable in his negotiations on the Cyprus problem.
The prediction is that Anastasiadis will be re-elected on Sunday as people are generally happy with his administration and want to give him a second term to complete his programme. Malas has increased his power and improved AKEL’s image after Christofias’ unsuccessful government between 2008-2013.
∗Panos Sfaelos is Journalist (National Union of Journalists), Lawyer and Political Scientist. He is a PhD graduate from the University of Kent.