Nikos Christodoulides Wins Hotly Contested Cyprus Election

Nikos Christodoulides, new president of Cyprus

Nikos Christodoulides has been elected the eighth president of Cyprus, defeating career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis in a hotly contested election.

Christodoulides, who formerly served as foreign minister, received 51.92 percent of the vote against his opponent’s 48.09 percent, who was supported by the left-leaning party AKEL. Just  15,041 votes separated the two candidates.

The election took place one week after 49-year-old Christodoulides emerged as the frontrunner following the first round, which saw the elimination of Averof Neofytou, the head of the center-right DISY, which has been in power for the past decade.

The defeat of Neofytou was the first time that DISY, the island’s largest political party, failed to advance to the runoff.

Although leading DISY figures had signaled their support for Mavroyiannis, the party’s refusal to officially endorse any candidate left the contest wide open.

Mavroyiannis conceded defeat, saying: “Tonight a long but beautiful journey has come to an end.”  
“It allowed me to meet hundreds of individuals with ambitions and dreams for our nation.”

The result saw celebrations break out in the street from supporters of the new president, who lit up the Nicosia sky with fireworks and danced.

Many however held reservations over the result’s impact on the island’s fragile peace.

Christodoulides, who ran as an independent, was backed by factions with an openly antagonistic posture toward reunification efforts for the Mediterranean island.

Since the Turkish invasion of 1974, Cyprus has been racially divided, with Greek and Turkish Cypriots residing on opposite sides of a UN-patrolled ceasefire line. For many, the verdict has crushed expectations that the decades-long issue will be resolved in the near future.