25/02/2008 - Results - 2nd round
Demetris Christofias (Progressive Party of the Working People, AKEL) was elected President of the Republic of Cyprus in the second round of the presidential election that took place on 24th February winning 53.37% of the vote in comparison with 46.63% for his rival Ioannis Kasoulides (Democratic Rally, DISY).
Turn out was slightly higher than that recorded during the first round on 17th February rising to 90.84% i.e. +1.42 point. It is obligatory to vote in Cyprus.
"The people have voted. Victory does not just belong to the Progressive Party of the Working People, we triumphed together. Tomorrow is another day and we have a number of problems to overcome. We must rally together and work as a team to achieve the reunification of our homeland," declared Demitris Christofias when the results were announced.
Ioannis Kasoulidès acknowledged his defeat and congratulated his adversary. "It was a difficult campaign. We discussed issues that have never been addressed until now. I assured Demetris Christofias that I would stand by him to find a solution to the Cypriot problem," he indicated. In the end the support of Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church did not enable Ioannis Kasoulides to win through over his rival, leader of the island's main party which is supported by the Democratic Party (DIKO) led by outgoing president Tassos Papadopoulos, the Movement of Social Democrats-Centre Union (EDEK), the United Democrats (EDI) and the Ecologist and Environmentalist Movement-Green Party (KEP).
Demetris Christofias who is sixty and who benefited from a scholarship from the former Soviet Union holds a degree in history. Elected Secretary General of the Progressive Party of the Working People in 1988 he became chairman of the Chamber of Representatives, the only Chamber in Parliament after the general elections on 27th May 2001, won by his party with 34.7% of the vote. He was re-elected to this post after the elections of 21st May 2006.
In 2004 Demetris Christofias was against the peace plan put forward by the UN in view of the country's reunification and voted "no" as did the majority of Greek Cypriots (75.83%) whilst 64.9% of Turkish Cypriots approved the plan.
His victory makes Demetris Christofias the first Communist Head of State of Cyprus and also in the European Union. According to political observers the present European Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, son of former Cypriot President (1977-1988) Spiros Kyprianou, may very well become Foreign Minister. According to information released in the press, the Democratic Party will be attributed 3 ministries and the Movement of Social Democrats-Centre Union, 2.
"It is not his priority to transform Cyprus into a Communist State. The aim is to modernise the country and democratise Cypriot institutions," declared AKEL spokesperson, Andros Kyprianou who said that the next Finance Minister would not be from AKEL but would be chosen by consensus.
Demetris Christofias is often described as a eurosceptic. He was against his country's adoption of the euro on January 1st. "I am not a eurosceptic. I am a eurofighter. I fight to defend the interests of Cyprus in Europe. I shall not systematically say no to everything put forward by the European Union," he said on 22nd February.
"He is a pragmatic Social Democrat. He is not even an anti-capitalist. At first he may be the cause of a few raised eyebrows in the European Union. But he is not what springs to mind when we think of the word 'Communist'," maintains Hubert Faustmann, professor of international relations at the University of Nicosia. "AKEL has almost been a capitalist party for years" said the Vice-President of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Theodore Couloumbis.
The revival of negotiations on the island's reunification – split since July 1974 by a "green line" controlled by the UN Blue Berets, comprises Demetris Christofia's priority. The new President is in favour of a federal solution and is recommending the establishment of an independent, demilitarised, non-aligned country.
During his electoral campaign he said that he wanted to open negotiations with the Turkish part of the island under the auspices of the UN. "I want to send a message of friendship to Turkish Cypriots, the message of a joint battle for us so that we can manage our affairs without foreign intervention. We must move forwards on the Cypriot issue to find a joint solution and open communication channels with Turkish Cypriots," he declared when the results were announced. "I think the problem of Cyprus can be solved by the end of this year," indicated the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat (Republican Turkish Party, CTP).
Now elected President of the Republic, Demetris Christofias is due to resign from the management of his party. The new Head of State is also Prime Minister and will take office on 29th February.
Presidential election results 17th and 24th February 2008 in Cyprus
Turn out: 89.42% (1st round) and 90.84% (2nd round)
(It is obligatory to vote in Cyprus)
Source: Internet site of the Cypriot Interior Ministry (http://www.ekloges.gov.cy/index.aspx?ci=en-GB)