Presidential hopeful Andreas Mavroyiannis conceded defeat on Sunday, an hour after the voting stations closed, thanking all his supporters “for the beautiful journey” they had embarked on.

Though the difference with his rival Nikos Christodoulides was 3.94 per cent, Christodoulides gathered the clear majority of votes with 204,867 supporters – or 51.97 per cent.

As Mavroyiannis headed to make his speech he was embraced by hoards of supporters who hugged him and congratulated him on his fight. He got 48.03 per cent, translating to 189,335 votes.

“A long but beautiful journey has come to end. It gave me the opportunity to meet thousands of people and share hopes and dreams for our country.”

Flanked by his children, wife and supporters, Mavroyiannis thanked those who stood by his side, including Akel, which had backed him. He also expressed his gratitude and pride for those that had voted for him from other parties.

“I regret that we could not live up to the hopes and expectations for a great progressive change that our country needs,” he added.

Mavroyiannis called Christodoulides to congratulate him before all the votes had been counted, and said he would remain a politically active citizen. It is not the time now to have a meeting with Christodoulides, though he does not rule out the idea, he said.

Asked by reporters what he would tell the new president, Mavroyiannis said he did not like giving advice, but what is of enormous importance is “the reunification of our country, a good administration, having institutions that work, our democracy and all things that have to do with the quality of life for the people.”

The country deserves more, Mavroyiannis added, and said it was important to consider future generations. Asked if the new president would want to keep him as chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem, Mavroyiannis said it was not what he was vying for but he would always be there to advise on matters related to Cyprus’ reunification.

Asked where he would be the next day, Mavroyiannis said he would be at home, while there is a huge mission awaiting for him at his UN post at the International Law Commission.

Prior to arriving at his campaign offices, he told reporters he had an envelope with two speeches: one for whatever scenario was going to emerge.

“We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Akel general secretary Stephanos Stephanou said the next day would find Akel in opposition.

“It was a difficult election battle in which we gave our best selves. Andreas Mavroyiannis is a person with exceptional character, with an ethos and love for his country, that inspired tens of thousands of our citizens from different political parties to support him.”

Stephanou also congratulated Christodoulides.

Akel had held out hope once the exit polls gave Christodoulides the lead, casting doubt over their results and saying it would wait for the official results.

“I feel the need to congratulate Andreas Mavroyiannis for the fight he gave and wish him the very best. I am certain our paths will cross again in our common fights to unify our country.”

The fight for the presidential bid was carried out with pride and dignity all along from Mavroyiannnis’ quarters, the general secretary added.

“The elections have shown the left is here, strong, united, with a vision for the future.”