THE expat vote in the upcoming elections could be decisive in choosing a mayor for Peyia in Paphos, home to a large number of foreign residents, according to officials.
Linda Leblanc, who is standing for re-election as a ‘Peyia coalition of independents’ municipal councillor, said that the race for mayor looks set to be a close one.
“In the election for mayor, it seems that the expat vote will be decisive and could swing the outcome,” she said, adding that the coalition wants to ensure that they don’t lose a single vote due to mistakes or invalid ballots.
The coalition of independents was formed in 2006, by a group of likeminded residents to address problems in the local community and promote transparency and equality. They are not affiliated to any political party, but the Greens have already endorsed the candidates.
In 2006 they successfully elected Canadian born Linda Leblanc, a naturalised Cypriot, to Peyia municipal council, the first foreign-born citizen to achieve this. In December 2011, Leblanc was re-elected for a second term as councillor.
Peyia resident David Ball is also standing as a prospective councillor on the coalition ticket, as is fellow resident, Yeng Chow, a Belgian national of Chinese origin.
“Every vote counts. We need about 300 to gain a seat on the Peyia council, about 400 for two seats. It’s possible to do this, but we need everyone’s support,” said Leblanc.
In Peyia, nominations for mayor were submitted by incumbent Neophytos Akoursiotis, as well as Pantelis Harpas and Marinos Lambrou.
As well as the three foreign residents standing in Peyia, there are also a number of non-Cypriot candidates standing for election on village councils in Paphos district, such as in Kouklia and Tala.
Leblanc, who is also a member of the Green party, said that as many foreign residents are unable to read Greek well, the coalition will hold a special election event explaining voting procedures on Monday, December 12 at 5pm at Petsas Restaurant.
Paphos District officer, Mary Lambrou, said that everything is ready and in place to facilitate the smooth conduct of the local elections on December 18.
The new mayors and councillors of the four municipalities, as well as members of the community councils in district will be declared at the auditorium of the Paphos Administration building on December 19, she said.
The Paphos District officer added that at around 3.30pm on December 19, the proclamation of the communities is expected, followed an hour later by the declaration of Paphos municipality, and then the municipalities of Peyia, Geroskipou and Polis.
Lambrou said that the municipality of Paphos will operate 34 polling stations at various schools in the town.
As well as the eleven mayoral candidates standing in the four Paphos municipalities, 174 people are vying for seats on all of the district’s municipal councils, she added.
Of these candidates, 85 are standing as councillors in Paphos municipality, 41 in Geroskipou, 22 in Peyia and 26 candidates in Polis Chrysochous.
Lambrou said that registered voters in all four municipalities amounted to 29,063 persons, of which 4,976 are in the communities.
In the municipality of Paphos, 19,405 are registered to vote, 4,799 in Geroskipou, 2,109 in Polis and 2,750 in Peyia.
In Paphos, two candidates are contending the mayoral seat – incumbent Phedonas Phedonos, and challenger Akis Chrysomilou. Three candidates are up for the seat in Geroskipou, current mayor Michalis Pavlides, Giannakis Mallouridis and Andreas Shikkis. In Polis, which has the smallest electorate, Angelos Odysseos Georgiou, the current mayor, is standing against Giotis Papachristofi and Stavros Iakovides.