The storm clouds darkening the presidential election campaign dissipated for a while on Thursday as sunny smiles greeted the candidates who submitted their nomination.

The friends, family and fellow politicians who gathered outside the Filoxenia conference centre in the capital were at ease in the balmy 20 degrees, with the mood closer to a book launch rather than reflecting what has been a bitterly-fought election campaign.

Awaiting the arrival of the candidates, those present engaged in a “Who’s Who” of the crowd – “that’s Mavroyiannis’ dad” – while others caught up on gossip.

Ministers arrived one by one in their classic black Mercedes, past a couple of Porsches parked on the pavement, ahead of Disy party leader and candidate Averof Neophytou’s arrival.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris and Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos chatted amiably slightly apart from the crowd, with Nouris gesticulating dramatically, soon joined by other ministers.

Neophytou arrived shortly after and sifted through the crowd, greeting the faithful; dressed in their Sunday best.

It then became apparent that the crowd was in fact the Disy flock, which then headed past the gates and into the conference centre.

Outside the gates there was now just a half dozen police officers directing traffic, some journalists and a few loyalists who had arrived slightly early ahead of their candidate’s appearance.

Security seemed lax, considering half the cabinet was there, but then again it was an insular crowd. The lack of beefed-up police officers barking at members of the public was a welcome change.

Another crowd then grew ahead of Nikos Christodoulides’ arrival, as each candidate had been allocated a slot.

Diplomatic and amicable – many had served as diplomats, candidates which had submitted their nomination filed out and past the rival crowd which had since gathered outside.

A cheery, stately looking woman told me that she made the trip from Limassol, explaining that she was Christodoulides’ mother-in-law.

Despite the smiles and cheer, however, the underlying themes of the election rose to the surface.

“So what do you think’s going to happen in the election?” I asked a man in a suit, who replied drily that: “We’ll get a government I guess.”

To my side was a group discussing the implications of the lower-than-expected number of eligible voters registering. It was revealed late last month that about only 10,000 of the 71,730 eligible to register had done so.

January 5 marks the one-month waypoint until the February 5 election finally takes place, following a campaign cycle which many members of the public have bemoaned as having been an extraordinarily drawn-out process.