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25 June, 2024
 
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Cyprus' conservatives in tight spot after first round

DISY split as center-backed ex-minister from Right goes up against fellow career diplomat backed by Left

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The conservative ruling party in the Republic of Cyprus is facing a “serious dilemma” this week ahead of a runoff presidential election on Sunday, with statements by DISY members already signaling a tight spot for the Right.

Career diplomat and former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides came at the top with 32% in Sunday’s first round of voting, followed by fellow seasoned diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who surprised political pundits with 29.6% of the vote.

Christodoulides, a political conservative and member of right-wing Democratic Rally party (DISY), will face Mavroyiannis in a runoff next Sunday after the surprising defeat of Averof Neophytou who got just 26.1%.

Mavroyiannis, who served in the current administration, was backed by left-wing AKEL, while Christodoulides who stepped down as foreign minister in 2021 got support from a center-DIKO-backed coalition.

'We have very serious differences with both candidates. However, this is the result we got, in the first round, one of them will be the next president, this is a fact'

Neophytou ally and former finance minister Harris Georgiades went on state radio Monday morning saying this was a “serious dilemma” for DISY, adding that Christodoulides moved in a divisive manner that disappointed the party members.

“We have very serious differences with both candidates. However, this is the result we got, in the first round, one of them will be the next president, this is a fact,” he said.

Neophytou had expected a spot in the runoff and previously issued a statement that ruled out working with any of the other two candidates, with the DISY president vowing to remain in the opposition in such a scenario.

“This is what we said in statement said, and I was one of those who drafted the statement,” Georgiades said.

But things were not as clear after Sunday’s first round.

Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos, a popular DISY member, called for his party to back Mavroyiannis.

But Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said the conservative party ought to stick to fellow member Christodoulides.

Neophytou and Georgiades were expected to hold a meeting with outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday at the Presidential Palace to discuss the situation.

“Nothing is clear now because there has been no discussion yet,” Georgiades said.

“We have to evaluate this,” he added.

Last year Christodoulides announced a “non-partisan candidacy” for president, deviating from political norms and promising an “all-inclusive and non-combative” race.

Christodoulides has been accused by opponents on the Left of offering nothing new compared to ten years of conservative rule, an accusation the former FM has rejected. He has also denied reports that he lacked clear positions on key issues.

Anastasiades was later accused of not clearly backing Neophytou, with political pundits suggesting occasional statements in favor of the DISY president were just lip service, an allegation the outgoing president has vehemently denied.

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