NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The Latest on the presidential election in Cyprus (all times local):
A presidential election exit poll by Cyprus’ state broadcaster shows incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades facing a runoff with independent candidate Stavros Malas, who’s backed by the communist AKEL party.
The exit poll released by broadcaster RIK when voting ended Sunday showed Anastasiades leading with 38 percent to 42 percent of the vote, followed by Malas with 27-31 percent.
Nicholas Papadopoulos, leader of the center-right DIKO party and son of Cyprus’ late President Tassos Papadopoulos, trailed in third place with 21.5 percent to 24.5 percent.
Candidates needed a majority of the votes cast to avoid a runoff election on Feb. 4.
Malas has criticized Anastasiades for not reaching a deal with the leader of Cyprus’ breakaway Turkish Cypriots to reunify the ethnically split island.
Cypriots are voting for a new president they hope will overcome years of failure to resolve the island-nation’s ethnic division and deliver more benefits from an economy on the rebound after a severe financial crisis.
Polls opened Sunday with the approximately 551,000 eligible voters starting to cast their ballots for the young republic’s eighth president at over 1,100 polling booths.
Opinion polls show incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades leading his two main rivals, but he may not receive more than half of votes cast to avoid a runoff in a week’s time.
Anastasiades could face in the Feb. 4 runoff either Stavros Malas, who’s backed by the communist AKEL party, or Nicholas Papadopoulos, leader of the center-right DIKO party and the son of the late former President Tassos Papadopoulos.