Cypriot presidential election, 2003
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Presidential elections were held in Cyprus on 16 February 2003. The election was dominated by the ongoing negotiations over the Annan Plan for Cyprus. Incumbent President Glafkos Klerides was largely in favour of the plan, while leading opposition candidate Tassos Papadopoulos wanted substantial amendments before he would accept it. Papadopoulos won the election in the first round after winning over 51% of the vote. Voter turnout was 90.5%.
On 3 January 2003 the incumbent President Glafkos Klerides said that he would be standing for re-election in the upcoming presidential election, after previously saying he would not stand again. Klerides, from the Democratic Rally party, had been elected in 1993 and 1998 and called for Cypriots to elect him for a further limited 16 months as President to give him time to try and reach a deal with Turkish Northern Cyprus on reunifying the island. He wanted other candidates to unite behind him and agree to form a national unity government to try and reach a settlement, however this was not agreed to by his opponents.
Klerides main opponent was expected to be Tassos Papadopoulos, leader of the Democratic Party. Papadopoulos was seen as being more hardline in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots and had previously accused Klerides of selling out the interests of Greek Cypriots in negotiations. Papadopoulos was backed by the biggest party in Cyprus, the communist Progressive Party of Working People and had been clear favourite in the election until Klerides announced he would stand again.
Klerides campaign was hurt by the decision of his close aide and attorney general Alecos Markides to also stand in the election as an independent. Markides was standing as he believed Cyprus needed a younger, more modern, leader than the 83-year-old Klerides. His candidacy however was seen as likely to split the support of centre-right voters and thus assist Papadopoulos in the election.
Opinion polls during the campaign showed Papadopoulos with a significant lead over Klerides. The ongoing negotiations over the Annan Plan for Cyprus dominated the campaign with Klerides being seen as more favourable to the plan than many voters and this contributed to the more sceptical Papadopoulos pulling ahead. Papadopoulos called for the Annan plan to be amended and said that Klerides was giving away too much in negotiations. However Papadopoulos emphasized that he would negotiate for a deal if he was elected and ran television adverts which attempted to reduce voter concerns over his previous nationalist stance.
The election campaign was low key with Klerides refusing to campaign for the election. On the day before the election the final polls showed Papadopoulos with a 12% lead over Klerides, with a reasonable chance of winning over 50% of the vote and avoiding the need for a second round.
The results saw Papadopoulos winning over 51% of the vote compared to almost 39% for Klerides, meaning that he was elected in the first round. Markides trailed in third place with 6.6% of the vote, while Kyriakou won 0.44% but claimed that he really won 73%. Voting was compulsory and so voter turnout was high at over 90%.
|Glafkos Klerides||Democratic Rally||160,724||38.80|
|Nicos Koutsou||New Horizons||8,771||2.12|
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