Nicos Nicolaides won Limassol on Sunday with 48.31 per cent of the vote, ousting two-term rival Andreas Christou with 48.27, a difference of only ten votes in municipal elections.
Christou, backed by Akel, Diko, and Edek, had jumped slightly ahead in the last half hour but Nicolaides took the lead for most of the vote count. Christou congratulated his rival and thanked his supporters for giving him ten years in office. “The people have spoken,” he said.
Nicolaides – a prominent member of Edek gone rogue – was backed by Disy, and the Green party. He in turn thanked the people of Limassol and his supporters, and said it was a great honour for him to be elected as mayor. “I know the responsibilities it brings,” he said. He also paid tribute to Christou despite a hard-fought campaign.
In Famagusta, incumbent Alexis Galanos scraped through with 41.73 per cent to 41.54 for his closest rival Simos Ioannou with all the votes counted, a difference of only 23 votes. Galanos trailed Ioannou almost all the way through the count but pulled ahead suddenly.
In Nicosia with 100 per cent counted, Constantinos Yiorkadjis led with 68.86 per cent of the votes to Panayiotis Stavrinides’ 31.14 per cent. Stavrinides conceded by 7.30pm saying he had called Yiorkadjis to congratulate him and said they would speak soon about issues concerning the capital that they were both concerned with.
In a statement, Yiorkadjis thanked Nicosians for their support saying it gave him the impetus for the next five years to take “dynamic and decisive decisions” as the capital moves forward. “We are on the right road,” he said. Yiorkadjis expressed concern over the high abstention rate but said the responsibility lay not only with the voters.
In Paphos with 100 per cent counted, incumbent Phedonas Phedonos led with 55.66 per cent to Akis Chrysomilos’ 44.34 per cent. The latter conceded just before 8pm saying he had called Phedonos to congratulate him.
In Larnaca with 100 per cent counted Andreas Vyras was leading with 35.47 per cent. He had five rivals, all trailing.
Yiannos Karousos, Ayia Napa’s incumbent beat Vassos Vassiliou with 64.89 per cent to 35.11 per cent as vote counting reached 100 per cent.
He told CyBC the message of his re-election was that Ayia Napa would “move forward united”.
Final turnout for the municipal elections islandwide was 62.3 per cent, 37.7 per cent abstention which was around 9 per cent higher than the 2011 elections. Turnout was down in all districts except Larnaca.
In Nicosia 57.5 per cent voted compared with 66 per cent in 2011. In Limassol it was 56.2 per cent compared with 65 per cent in 2011. Famagusta district saw a 72.5 per cent turnout compared with 80 per cent in 2011. Larnaca was 72.3 per cent compared with 71 per cent in 2011 and Paphos 74 per cent compared with 83 per cent in 2011.
Chief Returning Officer Constantinos Nicolaides said on Sunday afternoon that by 5pm around 54 per cent of voters islandwide had turned out.
Following a really low turnout in the morning, Nicolaides called on people to practice their right to vote and not to cede it to others.
“Unfortunately despite repeated calls, the percentage of voter turnout until noon, was very low,” he said. Abstention, he added, was an issue that should trouble everyone as it was a growing problem.
According to data, voting up until noon when the polling centres closed for a one-hour break, turnout was low compared with May’s parliamentary elections and the previous municipal elections in 2011.
In the Nicosia District, the turnout was 23 per cent compared with 26 per cent in the 2011 municipal elections. It was 22 per cent in the Limassol District compared with 26 per cent in 2011. The Famagusta area saw a 25 per cent turnout compared with 31 per cent in 2011. In Larnaca it was 24 per cent compared with 40 per cent in 2011, and in Paphos it was 31 per cent compared with 39 per cent in 2011.
By 3pm Nicosia saw a 40 per cent turnout, Limassol 44 per cent, Famagusta 52 per cent, Larnaca 44 per cent and Paphos 55 per cent.
By 5pm, 51 per cent had voted in Nicosia, 69 per cent in Famagusta, 52 per cent in Larnaca, 70 per cent in Paphos and 51 per cent in Nicosia.
Polls closed at 6pm.
According to CNA, police were called in to polling centres in Inia and Emba when it was reported by election officials that several people had tried to photograph their cast ballot, which is illegal.
President Nicos Anastasiades who went to vote in Limassol early Sunday assured that the government would support the local authorities, so that with planned reforms, the role of municipalities would be enhanced.
Anastasiades said that abstention was not the answer to the problems, while participation was one of the advantages of democracy, and he called on the citizens to vote.
He said he would be happier of the elections were being held for reform of local government, which he said he believed would have generated more interest from voters.
Anastasiades said this was an opportunity for the people to choose their local administration, and noted that the elections were just as important as others, as they had to do with the day-to-day life of the public.
He expressed hope that the results would allow the most capable to address local problems, and assured that the government would support them.
Main opposition Akel leader Andros Kyprianou urged the public to cast their votes arguing that the municipal elections were the “crowning moment of democracy”.
Speaking after casting his vote at a polling station in Nicosia, Kyprianou called on citizens to vote for those they believe will represent them in the best way, as they are called to choose the people who will be able to manage their day-to-day problems for the next five years.
Thus, he said, it is important where votes go. If citizens did not vote, then others decide on their behalf, Kyprianou said.
He also wished everyone Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, “which would see the reunification of Cyprus, and where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will live together in conditions of peace and prosperity”.
Other political leaders too urged people to get out and vote as the decision would affect their day-to-day lives, they said.
Ruling Disy chief Averof Neophytou said the municipal elections were being held in the light of important political developments on the Cyprus issue, and expressed hope that the effort would bear fruit and the country would be reunified.
Neophytou said that the elections were important for everyone`s neighbourhood, society, the municipality, and the quality of everyday life.
The head of Diko, Nicolas Papadopoulos, who cast his vote at the Ayios Andreas primary school polling centre, said that local elections were the “state
institution that affected than any other “our everyday lives, our quality of life, the places where our children are educated, play, and grow up”.
By participating in this procedure, he said, “we reinforce democracy but also respect to local communities”.
House President Demetris Syllouris issued a similar call. Speaking after casting his vote at a polling station in Nicosia, Syllouris said that democratic elections strengthened the Republic, and pointed out that qualitative upgrading and strengthening also needed quantitative participation.
Head of the Citizens` Alliance Giorgos Lillikas said abstention had kept the country and the municipalities at a standstill.
He said the municipal elections gave the opportunity to citizens to decide who they wanted to address the problems of their municipalities and communities, adding that the result would dictate the quality of life of the citizens in their day-to-day lives.
Lillikas said voters should understand that only with participation could the country move forward.
Green Party-Citizens` Cooperation’s Giorgos Perdikis said this was not the time for abstention, distancing and indifference, and called on people to prove that they were responsible.
He said it was time for the people to take a stance on issues such as the environment, cleanliness, waste management, and animal welfare, by electing the right people to the right position.
Perdikis said that if people abstained, it would be pointless for them to complain the next day, and expressed hope that the new local authorities would be strengthened, so that they could move forward.
Polls opened islandwide on Sunday at 7am.
Based on the final electoral list, the total number of registered voters was 561,376, including 16,740 voters who are citizens of other European Union member states. Most of them are of Greek and British origin. There are also 634 Turkish Cypriots registered voters.
Nicolaides said the names of the elected mayors and heads of the communities would be announced by 10pm, whereas the members of the municipal/community councils and school district boards will be announced early Monday.
A significant number of voters had the right to vote twice, as displaced persons who come from occupied or semi-occupied municipalities or communities were entitled to vote once for the municipality or community which they had to abandon due to the invasion, and once for the municipality or community where they currently live.
The number of voters in each constituency was as follows: Nicosia 217,947, Limassol 155,978 Famagusta 33,322, Larnaca 95,717 and Paphos 58,412. The right to vote have also 231 enclaved persons.
The total number of polling stations was 1,344; In the Nicosia district there were 356 polling stations for the municipal elections and 145 for community elections, in the Limassol District 246 for the municipal and 120 for the communal elections, in the Famagusta District 48 for the municipal and 29 for the communal, in the Larnaca District 154 for the municipal and 91 for the communal elections and in the Paphos District 64 for the municipal and 91 for communal elections. Another polling station operated at the Central Prison for inmates to exercise their electoral rights.
A total of 8,000 civil servants and members of the police were on duty to ensure that elections ran smoothly, while 1,500 unemployed graduates were employed at the polling stations.