Centrist candidate wins Cypriot elections, EU family still pending
Independent centrist candidate Nikos Christodoulides won the second round of the Cypriot elections on Sunday and became the 8th President of the Mediterranean island.
However, the political puzzle remains complex as it’s not clear yet which EU political family the new government in Cyprus will join.
In the second round of Cyprus’s Presidential elections, last published in late January, polls suggested a comfortable win of more than 20 points for Nikos Christodoulides, supported by social democrats and liberal parties.
However, the centrist candidate received 51.9%, only 3.8 points ahead of Andreas Mavroyiannis, who the left-wing AKEL party supported during the election campaign.
Before, Christodoulides had won the first round of Cyprus’s Presidential election with 32.0%, defeating Mavroyiannis, who won 29.6%. Centre-right DISY party candidate (European People’s Party – EPP), Averof Neofytou, came in third with 26.1%.
Christodoulides is set to represent Cyprus in the European Council.
The seat was previously held by outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, who merged with the centre-right EPP group.
It is unclear if Christodoulides will join any of the EU’s political party families, as he does not belong to any political parties in Cyprus.
He was expelled from DISY, the party of Anastasiades and Neofytou, after declaring his candidates without the party’s endorsement.
At the second round of the Cypriot elections, DISY was divided over whether they should support Christodoulides and therefore, officially, the party called on its supporters to vote their conscience.
Christodoulides eyes the EPP?
While Christodoulides has not yet revealed his intentions, EPP’s chief Manfred Weber hinted that the new government in Cyprus might join his group.
When a journalist told him that the EPP candidate in Cyprus did not make it to the second round, Weber referred to Christodoulides, revealing that he spoke to Anastasiades and that the latter “wishes to drag DISY to the former foreign minister”.
Following enormous electoral defeats across the EU, the EPP has lost its dominance in the EU Council, and Greece and Cyprus are among the last “strongholds” of the centre-right family.
The Greek elections are due by summer, and the New Democracy party (EPP) leads the polls. However, it’s unclear whether it can form a government as a new electoral law will apply and a coalition will be needed.
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(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)