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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades wins second term

The conservative had 56 per cent of the vote against 44 per cent for the leftist-backed Stavros Malas

Supporters of Nicos Anastasiades celebrate after exit polls show he defeated challenger Stavros Malas by a significant margin in Cyprus' presidential election. AP/Petros Karadjias
Supporters of Nicos Anastasiades celebrate after exit polls show he defeated challenger Stavros Malas by a significant margin in Cyprus' presidential election. AP/Petros Karadjias

Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades won a second five-year term on Sunday as voters gave a thumbs-up to his record in containing an economic meltdown in 2013 and conducting abortive peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots.

With all votes counted, the conservative had 56 per cent of the vote against 44 per cent for the leftist-backed Stavros Malas.

Mr Anastasiades, 71, steered the Cypriot economy to recovery after it was plunged into crisis in 2013, days after he was first elected, by its exposure to debt-racked Greece and by fiscal slippage under a previous left-wing administration.

Cyprus emerged from a bailout programme from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2016. Unlike other austerity programmes, the Cyprus model put most of the painful measures up front, including recapitalising banks by seizing uninsured deposits, a so-called ‘bail-in’ – used in the eurozone for the first time.

Mr Malas, a geneticist who served as health minister in the former leftist administration, had also come second to Mr Anastasiades in 2013.

Political analyst Hubert Faustmann said Mr Anastasiades had entered the race as favourite in a field of relatively uninspiring candidates, adding: “He handled the economic crisis very well, he got a lot of credit for that.”

As leader of the island’s Greek Cypriot community, Mr Anastasiades also oversaw peace talks with the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot controlled north.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup, and has one of the world’s longest-serving peacekeeping forces.

Peace talks collapsed last year over the role that Turkey could play in a post-settlement Cyprus.

Mr Anastasiades faced criticism from Greek Cypriots both for offering too many concessions and for missing one of the best chances in a generation to solve the logjam.

“There are two narratives in the Greek Cypriot community: one that he bears responsibility for the failure of talks and the other – that Turkish intransigence is responsible. It’s apparently the second which prevailed,” Mr Faustmann said.

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