Conservative Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades will have to face leftist rival Stavros Malas in a runoff poll next week after failing to win a sufficient majority in the first round of the presidential poll.
Final results Sunday show that Anastasiades won about 45 percent of the vote, almost 20 points ahead of Malas. The independent Giorgos Lillikas was a close third with about 25 percent of the vote.
Analysts say that the 66-year-old lawyer looked likely to win the February 24 run-off, even though Malas and Lillikas may join forces to defeat him. He has promised to turn the page in the island’s economy by securing an international bailout.
Malas has advocated being more assertive in bailout negotiations with international lenders to avoid the harsh austerity measures that are usually imposed in exchange for a rescue loan.
Cyprus has been caught in a financial crisis aggravated by the situation in neighboring Greece. The government is seeking international help because Cypriot banks suffered huge losses from Greece’s sovereign debt restructuring. The island, which has been shut out of international financial markets since May 2011, needs about $22 billion in aid.