Published : 2013-02-24 19:50
Updated : 2013-02-24 19:50
NICOSIA (AFP) ― Voting was under way in Cyprus on Sunday in a left-right presidential runoff to elect a new leader to seal a crucial bailout for the EU state on the brink of bankruptcy.
The vote, being closely watched in European Union capitals, pits rightwing opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades against Stavros Malas, who is backed by the communist party Akel in power during the island’s economic downturn.
Clear frontrunner Anastasiades says he has sounded out foreign governments for a possible bridging loan for the public sector “to give us breathing space” to finalize the terms of a bailout.
“Cyprus is at a crossroad. The people of Cyprus are today exercising their democratic right to determine the direction our country will take and in essence their own future,” Anastasiades said after casting his vote at a school in the port city of Limassol.
“I am absolutely confident that as of tonight Cyprus will have a new direction. Today’s vote marks a new era for Cyprus.”
Anastasiades, 66, favours a swift bailout agreement and says he accepts the harsh measures required to secure it, while Malas has campaigned on a pro-bailout but anti-austerity ticket.
Malas, stigmatized by holding a ministerial portfolio in the outgoing administration, says the Mediterranean island can defuse its economic crisis “by returning to the road of growth.”