Incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades was leading in the presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, but failed to clinch an outright majority, which will lead to a runoff on February 4.
An exit poll for public broadcaster Cybc put Anastasiades in the lead with between 38 and 42 percent of the vote, followed by Akel-backed backed independent Stavros Malas who garnered between 27 and 31 per cent.
Diko’s Nicolas Papadopoulos was seen taking between 21.5 and 24.5 percent of the vote. The poll was based on an 80 per cent sample. In the same poll Citizens’ Alliance Giorgos Lillikas came in with 1-3 per cent and far-right Elam’s Christos Christou with 4-6 per cent.
Exit polls by four other channels produced similar results though only Cybc had Anastasiades over the 40 per cent mark in the higher margin though ANT 1 and Alpha put the incumbent as high as 39 per cent. Anastasiades scored lowest on the Sigmalive poll of between 32 and 36 per cent.
Noteworthy was the fact that Christos Christou took three times the votes of Lillikas in all of the exit polls. A spokesman said the party thanked those who voted for them. “Abstention has been the real victor in the elections and that should concern all candidates. The fault lies with those that have governed and those that supported them,” the spokesman said.
A total of 71.4 per cent of voters cast their ballot. In 2013, the number was 83.14. Parliamentary elections in 2016 had a voter turnout of 66.74 per cent.
While it was known from earlier polling that Anastasiades would have a comfortable lead, the real battle was whether he would go through to the second round against Akel-backed candidate Stavros Malas or Diko’s Nicolas Papadopoulos but Papadopoulos’ chief staffer Chrysis Pantelides told Cybc their exit poll would be proved wrong.
Earlier polls have shown that in the run-off, Anastasiades is forecast to win the contest with either opponents. In an Anastasiades-Papadopoulos showdown, the president would take 37.3 per cent of the vote and Papadopoulos 26.7 per cent. Against Malas Anastasiades would take 39.9 per cent against his opponent’s 26.6 per cent.
Malas has stated categorically that he would not be seeking the support of Elam between the first and second round of voting – the only candidate to do so.