by Michalis Vryonidis
We are in the crucial final sixty days before the elections, and everything points to a sensational thriller, a fierce battle for the coveted second place. It is an endurance race that necessitates a firm grip and, above all, the avoidance of erroneous communication strategies and political blunders. Mavroyiannis is rapidly increasing his electoral influence, closing the two-point gap he had with Neophytou in the October Symmetron poll. The two men are now at the same starting point, and the outcome will be decided in the final mile of the arduous marathon.
The dissatisfaction index has risen to 85%...Instead of focusing on the real issues that citizens face on a daily basis, leaders are consumed by petty political and historical controversies.
The one certainty in this election is Christodoulides' strong momentum and commanding lead over the other two candidates, making him the clear favorite for the top spot. Despite a drop in his ratings in recent months, he has withstood the two rivals' attacks. His electoral influence has stabilized, and he is optimistic about the outcome. He has gradually built up a fourteen-point lead, allowing him to safely manage the campaign. The coming weeks, however, will determine the final course of his candidacy, as he is drawing significant input from the AKEL and DISY pools, and thus the effort to repatriate lost votes from the two parties' mechanisms will be stepped up.
Unfortunately, the picture of the country's future is extremely pessimistic. The dissatisfaction index has risen to 85%, just a breath away from the abyss. The political leadership bears full responsibility. Instead of focusing on the real issues that citizens face on a daily basis, leaders are consumed by petty political and historical controversies. They put their money into slogans rather than the future. We've seen absolute nothingness in political discourse in recent days, bringing back distant and painful memories of petrified defers. At 70%, the country's economic situation and its negative impact on citizens' quality of life are the absolute topics that dominate citizens' concerns. The political leadership may be oblivious to the issue of low wages, poverty, and unaffordable housing. But does it listen to itself when it speaks to the people? With 31% and 30%, respectively, the Cyprus problem and scandals round out the top three problems.
The turnout rate in the electoral process reflects citizens' disengagement from political life. The estimated abstention rate is 23% and based on historical data from Kathimerini polls, we estimate that abstention may exceed 30%. Voter certainty has risen to 67%, up from 62% in the October poll. All three main contenders have roughly the same level of voting certainty: 87% for Christodoulides, 86% for Mavroyiannis, and 82% for Neophytou.
The most popular candidate is Christodoulides. Christodoulides is viewed positively by 54% of respondents, while 36% negatively. His popularity in DISY is 56%, while it is over 80% in DIKO and EDEK. Mavroyiannis' popularity has risen to 41%, up from 33% in October. He receives 78% positive feedback from AKEL and about 40% from DIKO, EDEK, and Ecologist. Neophytou's popularity is at 29%, up three points from October. He gains 61% in DISY but receives no significant percentages from other sources. Demetriades has a 30% popularity rating among the other candidates.
Christodoulides' electoral influence has stabilized at 32%, the same as in October, ensuring a clear 14-point lead. He maintains a steady inflow from parties supporting his opponents and appears to be successfully stemming the communication and organizational attacks from both parties for the time being. It gains 69% of DIKO voters (up 5 since October), 32% of DISY voters (down 2), and a significant 15% of AKEL voters (minus 3). Furthermore, it receives 71% from EDEK, 54% from DIPA, 20% from the Ecologists, 16% from ELAM, 28% from extra-parliamentary parties, and 21% from non-aligned voters. Christodoulides' multiracialism is broad, with significant contributions from all ideological perspectives, including those of his main opponents. The significant and consistent influx of voters from DISY and AKEL reinforces the fourteen-point gap, as approximately 8% of the 32% he receives comes from DISY and 3% from AKEL.
The race for second place is still contentious and unpredictable. The constant shifts in trends, the statistically insignificant difference between the two candidates, and the winding down of the hourglass all point to an electoral thriller that may be decided at the end. However, we cannot ignore the fact that Mavroyiannis charged into the final stretch of the campaign, not only erasing the two-point gap between him and Neophytou but also leading by 0.7 points. In other words, he jumped three percentage points in two months, from 15.3% to 18.3%. His electoral influence has grown as a result of two factors. The most significant is the increase in inflows from other parties, particularly DIKO, DPA, and the Ecologists. Equally significant is the increase in non-aligned citizens from 5% to 11%. Clearly, these are disgruntled left-wing voters gravitating toward the candidate. The second is based on an increase in the rally of AKEL to 65%.
Neophytou's candidacy gains ground, but only by 0.6 percentage points, from 17% to 17.6%. The difference from Mavroyiannis is undoubtedly statistically significant and possibly reversible. However, the Neophytou candidacy, at least for the time being, lacks the same dynamic as the Mavroyiannis candidacy. The DISY rally has reached 49%. (plus 5 since October). The main issue for Neophytou is not his performance in DISY, which may improve in the final weeks of the campaign, but the small inflow from other places. DISY receives 70% of Neophytos votes, independents receive 13%, and other parties receive only 17%. Furthermore, we see a small trend of leakage of votes from the assembly to Demetriades in December, primarily in urban Nicosia.
Christodoulides continues to gain market share while keeping a safe distance from his competitors. He has reached out to a diverse ideological audience since the beginning of the election campaign, but it appears that the majority of them remain loyal and undivided. Citizens disregard party decisions and orders. We have never seen anything like this before, at least not on this scale. In the 2021 elections, only 51% of voters chose the candidate chosen by the party they supported. The rest defy party directives. Both candidates are still fighting for second place equally. A difference of less than a point in polling is virtually non-existent and only reflects the candidate who is favored by the trend at the time. Even the tried-and-true formula of polarization is no longer an effective barrier to party vote leakage. Extreme partisanship does not sway the majority of voters. Citizens see the country's course shifting against their wishes and needs. Citizens' well-being is not aided by polarization. Citizens want perspective and hope, not relics from the past.
Assignment: Kathimerini Kypriaki Politiki & Economic Newspaper LTD.
Agency: Symmetron Market Research, member of ESOMAR.
Conduct date: 2-9 December 2022.
Coverage: Nationwide urban and rural areas, men and women 18 years and older with voting rights.
Sample size: 808 persons.
Sampling method: Random stratified sampling.
Data collection: telephone interviews using a structured questionnaire.
Standard Margin of Deviation: 95% confidence level, margin of error +/- 3.5.
[This article was originally in Kathimerini's print edition on Sunday and was translated from its Greek original]