Nicos Anastasiades, leader of Cyprus’s main opposition Disy party, was close to winning his bid to become the country’s next president as Cypriots voted amid fears of an economic collapse.
Anastasiades, 66, was seen winning between 48 percent and 52 percent of the vote, according to an exit poll by private broadcaster ANT1 today. He got 51.1 percent voter support in a poll by state broadcaster RIK and 49 percent to 52 percent of the vote in separate surveys by Mega TV and Sigma.
If the final result of today’s ballot shows Anastasiades with less than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will proceed to a runoff election on Feb. 24. An official final result is expected about 8:30 p.m. local time, according to vote officials.
None of the polls, which were published after voting centers closed, gave Stavros Malas, who was backed by the communist Akel party of outgoing president Demetris Christofias, more than 27 percent of the vote. Independent George Lillikas received no more than 22.5 percent of the vote.
Cyprus’s new president must revive stalled talks with the European Union on a financial rescue to save the island nation from a financial collapse. Cyprus has been negotiating for eight months with the so-called troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund over terms of a bailout, which could equal the size of its 18 billion-euro ($24 billion) economy.
The country, which became the fifth euro-area member to request international financial aid in June 2012, has been shut out of debt markets for almost two years with lenders including Bank of Cyprus Plc and Cyprus Popular Bank Plc losing 4.5 billion euros in Greece’s debt restructuring last year.