Cyprus Polls Show Anastasiades Won Second Presidential Debate

Nicos Anastasiades, leader of Cyprus’s main opposition party DISY, won the most support during the second televised debate among the three main presidential candidates, two television polls showed today.

Anastasiades was the winning speaker for 53 percent of viewers participating in a Mega TV survey. He was followed by independent George Lillikas, with 37 percent, while Stavros Malas, who’s backed by President Demetris Christofias’s ruling Akel party, came in third with 10 percent. Viewers were asked to vote by phone during the debate late yesterday, Mega said.

In a similar survey by Sigma TV, also conducted by telephone during the two-hour discussion, 43.3 percent of viewers said Anastasiades was the most convincing, compared with 18.2 percent each for Lillikas and Malas. Neither poll said how many viewers took part or gave a margin of error.

Cyprus is in negotiations with European partners and the International Monetary Fund for a bailout that could approach the size of its roughly 18 billion-euro ($24 billion) economy, after becoming last June the fifth euro nation to seek aid.

The first round of Cyprus’s election is scheduled for Feb. 17 and the second for Feb. 24 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the first ballot. The next president will sign the bailout agreement.

The debate focused on the three candidates’ views on efforts to reunify Cyprus. The island has been divided between a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-speaking north since Turkey invaded in 1974 following a coup aimed at joining the nation with Greece.

Anastasiades also was deemed the most convincing speaker during the first televised debate among the three candidates on Jan. 14, according to polls by the two TV stations released the following day. That discussion centered on the economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew on Jan. 11 to Limassol, Cyprus’s second-biggest city, to campaign for Anastasiades. Like Merkel, the 66-year-old lawyer is a member of the European People’s Party.

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