Cyprus’s incumbent president Nicos Anastasiades led a pack of nine candidates in a presidential election on Sunday, but his share of the vote was not enough to outright secure him a second five-year term.
With all ballots counted, Anastasiades garnered 35.50 percent of the vote and will fight it out with leftist candidate Stavros Malas, who took 30.25 percent of the vote, in a runoff next Sunday.
Malas, who is supported by the main left wing opposition party, pushed out of the race centrist candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos, who got 25.74 percent of the vote.
The electoral service said on its website that only 396,000 voters turned out, out of 551,000, sending abstention to 28.13 percent.
Political analysts said that the future of Papadopoulos as leader of the main center Democratic Party is in doubt after his failure to make it to the second round of the presidential election.
Analysts said that Anastasiades, barring unexpected developments, is set to win another election against Malas, a genetic scientist.
They said Anastasiades is riding on a wave of popular approval of his policies that ledCyprus out of an unprecedented economic crisis which he inherited from his predecessor government, in which Malas was a health minister.
The United Nations had been watching the electoral process very closely in search of clues as to the possibility of resuming peace negotiations to end the partition of Cyprus.
Both Anastasiades and Malas, unlike Papadopoulos who suggested changing the terms and the goal of the negotiations, favor an early resumption of peace talks in line with past agreements for setting up a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal state.
The island was split along ethnic lines when Turkey sent its troops to occupy its northern part in response to a coup by the military rulers of Greece in 1974.
The latest rounds of negotiations ended in a disarray in Switzerland last July.