Cyprus on Sunday voted Nikos Christodoulides as the eighth President of the Republic, as a declaration ceremony at Eleftheria Stadium rocked to cheers of his name, applause and loud music.
Christodoulides, aged 49, secured 51.97 per cent of the vote after a campaign race that has been awash with bickering, scandals and digs including his former party Disy becoming heavily fragmented.
Speaking from the podium, Christodoulides proclaimed “the Cypriot people have spoken,” and called on everyone to leave the past behind and look together to the future united.
“National unity is not a slogan. It is a historical necessity.”
He described himself as ready to take over the governing of the country and to tackle the major challenges and important problems of everyday life.
“In the Cyprus I envision, I will be president of all Cypriots,” he said sending a “sincere message of cooperation” to all parties.
Christodoulides pledged he would adhere to the promises he made during his campaign period – including making sure his Cabinet will be split 50/50 between men and women.
“I am determined to create a government of broad social acceptance with suitable people from across the political spectrum and of course from the young generation of people, of which we are proud of.”
Announcements for ministerial appointments could be made even this week, he said.
Presidential campaigning has come to an end, and tomorrow is a new day, he added, surrounded by his family and party leaders from his backers – Diko, Depa, Edek and the Solidarity movement. He also thanked the Hunter’s movement and Animal Party.
“We will leave behind all the pain and hurt.”
Greek and Cypriot flags waved across the stadium – with a lone EU flag spotted from the stands, as horns blasted and supporters thundered applause for Christodoulides.
The president-elect secured 204,867 votes, beating his rival Andreas Mavroyiannis who trailed close behind at 48.03 per cent, with 189,335 votes in his favour.
In his speech, Christodoulides made a special reference to Greece expressing his gratitude to the country, which will be his first official visit abroad, he said. Christodoulides also pledged Cyprus’ western orientation will only be strengthened.
“At the same time we will continue to broaden our relations with all countries in the region and all powers that can play a constructive role in ending occupation and resolving the Cyprus problem – always in the principles of the UN and EU.”
The president-elect also sent a message to Turkish Cypriots saying the current situation cannot continue.
His speech was briefly interrupted when one of his daughters fainted and broadcasters switched their mics off. The scare appeared short-lived as he resumed his speech – on the note of Turkish Cypriots – unhindered and unshaken.
Christodoulides also stressed he was committed to transparency and ensuring a resilient and competitive economy. He made a point of saying he would take the necessary steps to ensure Cyprus is not a destination country for illegal migrants.
Top priorities for his presidency include resolving the Cyprus problem and matters surrounding energy, he noted.
In his speech he also made special thanks to Akel, its general secretary and people while also speaking directly to Disy and its leader Averof Neophytou.
“I know full well we endured difficult times during this presidential election campaign. Both on a personal level and political level. I want to assure everyone I will not disappoint them.”
Christodoulides also made a special note of thanks to President Nicos Anastasiades for the long-standing cooperation over the years and the trust he showed in him. “I am very grateful.”
Anastasiades tweeted his support to Christodoulides, wishing him the best of luck for the duties he was about to undertake.
Once the results were announced Christodoulides made a speech at his campaign office and then visited the headquarters of Diko, Edek and Dipa, giving a speech with the respective party leaders at each.
Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said: “We will give our soul to support your presidency.” Dipa head Marios Garoyian welcomed Christodoulides, saying he is the “embodiment of dedication.”
“Today there are no winners or losers. Those who voted differently or abstained have a role, place and future in the future of policy-making of our country,” Papadopoulos said.
Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos pledged his party’s support to Christodoulides’ presidency and that “Edek will continue to contribute constructively to the implementation of his government programme, which was also formed with our participation.”
Christodoulides was born on December 6, 1973 in Paphos and has worked for the Republic for over 20 years – as a diplomat, government spokesman and foreign minister.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, economics, Byzantine and Modern Greek studies from Queens College, City University of New York, a master’s degree in political science from New York University and another in diplomatic studies from the University of Malta at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, and a doctorate from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Athens.