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Conservative leader wins Cyprus presidency

Nicos Anastasiades has scored a decisive victory in the presidential runoff with 57.5 percent of the vote.
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2013 10:43

Conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades has won the presidential election in Cyprus, state television has reported.

Anastasiades scored a decisive victory in Sunday's presidential runoff vote with 57.5 percent of the vote, according to the state broadcaster CyBC.

Communist-backed rival Stavros Malas trailed behind with 42.5 percent, according to poll results.

Anastasiades will now be tasked with negotiating a crucial bailout for the European Union state on the brink of bankruptcy. His rival Malas is more wary of the austerity terms accompanying any rescue.

'Reinstate Cyprus' credibility'

"My first priority is to reinstate Cyprus' credibility,'' Anastasiades said in a victory speech in the capital Nicosia.

"I am committed to making all the necessary measures to steer our country out of the economic crisis"

- Nicos Anastasiades

"I'm determined to work together with our EU partners, and - at the same time - fulfil our responsibilities to the utmost. I am committed to making all the necessary measures to steer our country out of the economic crisis.''

Supporters of Anastasiades's Democratic Rally party waved Cypriot and Greek flags and honked car horns across Nicosia.

Financial markets are hoping an Anastasiades victory will speed up a joint rescue by the European Union and International Monetary Fund before the island runs out of cash and derails fragile confidence returning to the eurozone.

The 66-year-old lawyer took more than 45 percent of the vote in the first round in the Greek-speaking Cypriot south, easily beating 45-year-old geneticist Malas, who took 27 percent.

An anti-austerity candidate who finished third refused to back either contender, boosting Anastasiades' chances.

About a half million Cypriots were eligible to vote, but many abstained or cast blank votes in protest.

Grim outlook

The winner takes the reins of a nation ravaged by its worst economic crisis in four decades, with unemployment at a record high of 15 percent.

Follow our comprehensive Euro Crisis spotlight coverage

Pay cuts and tax hikes in preparation for a bailout have further soured the national mood.

Prospects for a quick bailout that revives the sinking Cypriot economy - which the EU says will shrink a worse than expected 3.5 percent this year - have been equally grim.

Talks to rescue Nicosia have dragged on eight months since it first sought help, after a Greek sovereign debt restructuring saddled its banks with losses.

It is expected to need up to $24bn in aid - a total equal to the size of its entire economy.

Virtually all rescue options - from a bailout loan to a debt writedown or slapping losses on bank depositors - are proving unfeasible because they push Cypriot debt up to unmanageable levels or risk hurting investor sentiment elsewhere in the bloc.

German misgivings about the nation's commitment to fighting money laundering and strong financial ties with Russia have further complicated the negotiations.

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Source:
Agencies
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