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Our View: Anastasiades victory will be harder than predicted

Anastasiades could now be tempted to make an agreement with the fascists of Elam,

IN the end, the battle for second place in the presidential elections was not as close a contest as opinion polls predicted. Stavros Malas finished comfortably ahead of Nicolas Papadopoulos with an impressive 30.25 per cent of the vote compared to the latter’s 25.74 per cent. He was only five percentage points behind President Anastasiades whose camp hoped he would win with a bigger margin to make Sunday’s run-off much easier for him.

After Sunday’s vote, Malas’ candidacy has gained momentum and credibility it somehow lacked during the campaign. The independent candidate, backed by Akel, has now become a force to be reckoned with and will no longer be viewed as a pushover for Anastasiades. People who may have thought of not turning up to vote on Sunday because they thought the result was a foregone conclusion could reconsider. The fact that he is no longer perceived as a certain loser in the run-off could attract new support.

On the minus side, it should be mentioned that Malas’ good showing could have been the result of voter behaviour influenced by factors that had nothing to do with him. For instance, he might have attracted those wanting to register a protest vote against Anastasiades for his volte face on the Cyprus talks among other things. Another possibility is that people did not want to see Papadopoulos in the run-off. He may keep the reunification supporters, but the people that voted strategically will back Anastasiades this time.

It is highly unlikely that Papadopoulos’ Diko will come out in favour of the Akel-backed candidate as it did in 2008, helping Demetris Christofias clinch victory, because of big differences on the Cyprus problem. Even if he wanted to do so, Papadopoulos might not be able to as there are deep divisions within his party; this is one of the main reasons for his poor showing in the elections. Former leader Marios Garoyian’s faction, which had worked at undermining Papadopoulos’ candidacy even holding its own rallies, has probably already agreed on its share of the spoils for backing Anastasiades in the run-off.

Anastasiades, who seemed a bit crestfallen after the announcement of the elections results, could now be tempted to make an agreement with the fascists of Elam, whose candidate took an impressive 5.65 per cent of the vote. This would not be a smart move as it has the potential of alienating thousands of moderate voters. Malas has a similar problem, given that his chances will be given a boost if he manages in the next few days to distance himself from Akel and show voters that he, and not the Central Committee, is making the decisions.

What happens in the next few days will determine Sunday’s result, but it no longer appears it will be a walk in the park for Anastasiades.

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