Who is Cyprus’s president-elect Nikos Christodoulides?
Christodoulides ran as an independent candidate and had the backing of centrists and centre-right parties.
Cyprus’s former Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides has been elected president of the country, becoming its youngest leader at 49.
Christodoulides won 51.9 percent of the vote in the run-off that took place on Sunday, edging out the communist-backed candidate, Andreas Mavroyiannias, who received 48.8 percent.
He will take up his new role on March 1.
Christodoulides ran as an independent candidate and had the backing of centrists and centre-right parties that usually had hardline stances on solving decades-old divisions in the island country.
This is the first time ever that a candidate has won the presidency without having the backing of two of the most prominent political groups, the conservative DISY and the communist AKEL.
In his winning speech, Christodoulides said: “I look you in the eyes and give you a promise – I will do everything to be worthy of your trust.”
Who is Christodoulides ?
Christodoulides has frequently been in the public eye for his persona of a young, energetic politician offering new ideas in the past decade.
He launched his diplomatic career in 1999, climbing up the ranks until he became foreign minister for the right-wing President Nicos Anastasiades in 2018. He quit that position in June to join the presidential race.
Christodoulides, who was already reportedly favoured by Anastasiades, needed votes from the DISY but caused fissures within the party after its leader, Averof Neofytou, was knocked out in the first round of polls last week.
While the DISY would usually tell members to back the candidate running against the communist party, Christdoulides was hated by many in the party and seen as a “traitor” who put ambition over the needs of the party and country.
But this left the presidential race open for Christodoulides to win the most votes.
What’s his political background?
Christodoulides studied in Malta and New York before getting a doctorate in political science from the University of Athens.
He has promised to take a “zero-tolerance” approach to corruption following a cash-for-passports scandal that marred the previous administration, which he was part of.
As the foreign minister, he failed to take a clear stance on Russian sanctions due to the invasion of Ukraine, which led to many criticising his “pro-Moscow” stance.
What’s his stance on peace talks?
Since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Cyprus has been split by ethnicity, with Greek and Turkish Cypriots living on either side of a United Nations-patrolled ceasefire border.
Christodoulides has previously considered that the main problems facing Cypriots were “the cost of living and housing, immigration and the Cyprus problem”, referring to those divisions in the country.
The last round of peace talks collapsed in mid-2017.
Christodoulides says he wants to resume talks but that a UN framework governing discussions should be renegotiated. He has, however, long taken a hawkish stance on peace talks.
He has said he is open to forming alliances with extreme right parties like ELAM, the ultranationalists who finished fourth in the election.