The personalities of the two presidential candidates facing off next Sunday for the island’s top job played a decisive role in their campaigns, elections expert Yiannis Mavris said on Monday.

Both Nikos Christodoulides and Andreas Mavroyiannis gathered more votes individually than the parties that backed them in the last parliamentary elections.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Mavris said their personalities saw a large number of voters over the past few months disengaging from the traditional parties.

According to Mavris, with 127,000 total votes, Christodoulides gathered over 40,000 more votes compared to what Diko, Edek and Dipa combined obtained in the last parliamentary elections, surpassing by almost 50 per cent the electoral influence of the three parties.

The same applied for Mavroyiannis, who, with 118,000 votes, obtained 38,000 more votes than Akel.

“It is clear that the element of personality played a decisive role in this election,” Mavris said. “The two candidates managed to win over voters who were unconvinced by the parties that backed them, a clear indication that the electorate in Cyprus is unsatisfied with traditional parties.”

He added that the trend is confirmed by the fact that, for the first time ever, the three leading candidates, Christodoulides, Mavroyiannis and Disy’s Averof Neophytou did not manage to garner 90 per cent of the total votes in a presidential election.

Furthermore, Mavris said that polls carried out before the Sunday election predicted a larger margin of victory for Christodoulides, which, in fact only amounted to three percentage points over Mavroyiannis.

“A possibility could be that people chose to vote for Mavroyiannis over independent candidate Achilleas Demetriades, who obtained around 2 per cent of the total votes, instead of the predicted 5 per cent.

“We are talking about a few thousand votes, which were decisive for Mavroyiannis to overtake Neophytou and to get closer to Christodoulides,” Mavris said, claiming that plenty of votes obtained by the Akel-backed candidate had the primary goal of excluding the Disy president.

Moreover, he also said that the small margin of victory for Christodoulides represented “a huge surprise”, adding that the exclusion of Disy from the second round of the election is effectively an unexplored scenario.

“Who will Disy decide to support? And, more importantly, will its electorate follow the party guidelines?

These are the key questions, bearing in mind that party alignment has been a problem for Disy since Christodoulides announced his presidential candidacy,” he concluded.