Cyprus Presidential Elections

Sat 13th October, 2007

Cyprus will hold presidential elections on Feb. 17, 2008, Interior Minister Christos Patsalides announced here on Thursday.

If no candidate secures 50 percent plus one vote in the first round, a second round will be held on Feb. 24, said Patsalides.

There are three main candidates -- incumbent President Tassos Papadopoulos, Parliament Speaker Dimitris Christofias, and former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

Latest polls have shown that the elections between the three remain tightly contested, with Papadopoulos in the lead with a little more than 30 percent support. The other two follow with a margin of about two percentage points.

A second round seems inevitable if there is no significant change in the four months to come.

According to official statistics, there have been 499,526 registered voters by July 2007, 318 of which are Turkish Cypriots living in the government controlled areas.

There are about 27,000 eligible voters aged between 18 and 30 yet to be registered.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and occupied the north of the island following a coup by a group of Greek junta officers who pushed for union with Greece.