Nicosia.- (GreekNewsOnline, XINHUA)
Three opinion polls published on Friday ahead of presidential elections in Cyprus next weekend confirmed the commanding position of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, who is seeking a second term. The polls are the last allowed to be published under Cypriot law before the elections in 10 days.
A poll by state-run Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, traditionally considered as the most reliable, shows center-right candidate Anastasiades leading the pack against nine presidential aspirants, with 42 percent in the first round on Jan. 28.
A much more interesting finding of two of the polls is that leftist candidate Stavros Malas, who is supported by the left-wing AKEL party, has for the first time overtaken center-right candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos, who had been shown in second position in all previous polls.
If polls are confirmed, Malas will garner about 25 percent of the vote in the first round with Papadopoulos in third place with about 22 percent.
In the event Papadopoulos is pushed out of the run-off election race on Feb. 4, there will be a repeat of the 2013 election when Anastasiades beat Malas with about 57 percent.
Only this time polls say Anastasiades will have an even easier time winning the election with 65 percent of the vote.
With Papadopoulos in the race, Anastasiades is predicted to carry the election with about 60 percent of the vote.
The difference is attributed to the fact that many Papadopoulos voters would find it hard to vote in the run-off election for left-winger Malas, who as a health minister in the previous AKEL government is considered to share responsibility for the near bankruptcy of the Cypriot economy in 2013.
On the other hand, more Malas voters are projected to vote for centrist Papadopoulos in the run-off election rather than center-right Anastasiades, who is considered by AKEL voters as the arch-foe of their party.
This is a strange discrepancy, as Anastasiades and his former party DISY and AKEL have very similar positions on the kind of a settlement agreement on the long-standing Cyprus problem to reunify the divided island, the central issue in the electoral campaign.
DISY and AKEL favor a federal state solution in which Greek and Turkish Cypriots will share power, whereas Papadopoulos opposes a federal solution.
Another poll, commissioned by the Ant1 television channel, was carried out by CMRC Cypronetwork between January 5 – 14, showed Anastasiades garnering 30.2 per cent of the votes – up 4.4 per cent since November – and Papadopoulos receiving 21.4 per cent, up a smaller 1.7 per cent.
Malas lags just behind with 20 per cent support, up almost twice as much as Papadopoulos, however, by three per cent since November when he had 17 per cent support.
Citizens’ Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas saw his share fall by almost half from four per cent in November to 2.4 per cent this month.
Elam’s Christos Christou was projected to win 3.6 per cent of votes, showing no change over the past two months.
In the second round, if Anastasiades is battling Papadopoulos for the seat, the incumbent would win with 35.3 per cent of the vote while Papadopoulos would get 30.6 per cent.
Akel voters would overwhelmingly support Papadopoulos by 44.4 per cent while 7.7 per cent said they would vote for Anastasiades if they had to pick between the two.
If Malas makes it to the second round with Anastasiades, the poll projects the current president will win with 38.6 per cent while the Akel-backed hopeful will receive 27 per cent of the votes.
The incumbent would receive 39.4 per cent of Diko’s votes, 25 per cent from the Green Party, 22.2 per cent from Solidarity and 14.3 per cent from Edek.
Malas would have 62.5 per cent of support from the Green Party, 45.7 per cent from Edek, 44.4 from Solidarity and 26 per cent from Diko.
Just over half of the participants said they will certainly vote – 51 per cent – up from 44.4 of those asked in November.
The poll revealed an increasing interest in the presidential elections with 18.6 per cent of respondents saying they were interested, 17.9 per cent very interested but 22.9 per cent having no interest whatsoever.
Top priorities for voters are health, economic development and education, the poll revealed, while the Cyprus problem is becoming increasingly important.
A whopping 73 per cent said they did not know the positions of the candidates while those that did (27 per cent) were more aware of those of Anastasiades with 61.6 per cent. A 54 per cent said they knew Papadopoulos’ positions, 52.5 per cent were aware of Malas’, 32.2 of Lillikas’ and 26.4 of Christou’s.