Presidential hopeful Nicos Christodoulides on Thursday welcomed the decision of socialist Edek to support his independent candidacy for the presidential elections, saying it bolstered efforts to work deal with the challenges ahead.

At an extraordinary party meeting on Wednesday night, Edek voted by an overwhelming majority of 91 per cent to back the former foreign minister. Christodoulides’ name was the only one put to the meeting by the political office which met earlier to discuss the party’s stance in the February 2023 elections.

Speaking after the vote, Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos said the party’s objective was to participate in formulating government policy over the next five years.

Of the 600 party representatives entitled to take part in Wednesday night evening, 527 attended with 480 voting in favour of Christodoulides, 35 voting against and 11 casting a blank ballot. There was one invalid ballot.

In a written statement on Thursday, Christodoulides thanked Edek for its support and confidence which he said reflected society’s aspirations for collective and effective action to deal with the challenges and problems of the day, beyond party politics and ideological and other differences.

“We continue with optimism, consensus, collectively and united so that our messages reach everyone… We are reaching out to everyone, irrespective of political and party origin, as we have a shared objective for the future of our country,” he added.

An opinion poll published by the Reporter website on Thursday showed Christodoulides taking a 38.3 per cent of the vote. Disy leader Averof Neophytou was second with 17.4 per cent and former diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis who is running as an independent with the support of Akel, recorded16.8 per cent.

Christodoulides is also backed by opposition Diko even though he says he remains a member of Disy and is proud of his work in the Anastasiades government from which he resigned a few months ago.

Earlier this week, Disy decided not to eject Christodoulides, saying he had placed himself outside the party on his own.