Cypriot presidential election, 2003

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Cypriot presidential election, 2003
← 1998 16 February 2003 2008 →
  Tassos Papadopoulos.jpg Glafcos Clerides.jpg
Nominee Tassos Papadopoulos Glafcos Clerides
Popular vote 213,353 160,724
Percentage 51.51% 38.80%

President before election

Glafcos Clerides

Elected President

Tassos Papadopoulos

Coat of Arms of Cyprus.svg
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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%.[1]


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.[2][3] 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.[2] 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.[2]

Klerides main opponent was expected to be Tassos Papadopoulos, leader of the Democratic Party.[4] 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.[5] 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.[4]

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.[4][6] Markides was standing as he believed Cyprus needed a younger, more modern, leader than the 83-year-old Klerides.[6][7] His candidacy however was seen as likely to split the support of centre-right voters and thus assist Papadopoulos in the election.[4]

A further seven candidates stood in the election including one, Costas Kyriacou, calling for free love.[8][9][10]


Opinion polls during the campaign showed Papadopoulos with a significant lead over Klerides.[11] 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.[12] Papadopoulos called for the Annan plan to be amended and said that Klerides was giving away too much in negotiations.[13] 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.[5]

The election campaign was low key with Klerides refusing to campaign for the election.[7] 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.[14]


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.[15] Markides trailed in third place with 6.6% of the vote,[16] while Kyriakou won 0.44% but claimed that he really won 73%.[9] Voting was compulsory and so voter turnout was high[17] at over 90%.

The leader of Turkish North Cyprus Rauf Denktash described the result as disappointing but Papadopoulos said he would begin talks on the United Nations plan within a few days of the election.[18]

Candidate Party Votes %
Tassos Papadopoulos AKEL/DIKO 213,353 51.51
Glafkos Klerides Democratic Rally 160,724 38.80
Alecos Markides Independent 27,404 6.62
Nicos Koutsou New Horizons 8,771 2.12
Costas Kyriacou Independent 1,840 0.44
Andreas Efstratiou Independent 606 0.15
Adamos Katsantonis Independent 558 0.13
Christos Iosifides Independent 391 0.09
Georgios Mavrogenis Independent 337 0.08
Pantelis Sofokleous Independent 209 0.05
Invalid/blank votes 17,497
Total 431,690 100


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p447 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ a b c Jansen, Michael (2003-01-04). "Cypriot President seeking 16-month limited mandate". The Irish Times. p. 9. 
  3. ^ "Cyprus president seeks re-election". BBC Online. 2003-01-03. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Cyprus poll confusion may hit UN unity plan: Challenge to president by attorney-general could split ruling party in the south". Financial Times. 2003-01-06. p. 5. 
  5. ^ a b "Poll frontrunner sheds tough image on Cyprus: Spotlight falls on the island's peace deal in Sunday's election, write Kerin Hope and Andreas Hadjipapas". Financial Times. 2003-02-14. p. 9. 
  6. ^ a b "Nervous in Nicosia: Cyprus may never have a better chance of a deal". Financial Times. 2003-01-10. p. 16. 
  7. ^ a b Morgan, Tabitha (2003-02-17). "Defeat for Clerides clouds Cyprus deal". The Daily Telegraph. p. 12. 
  8. ^ "10 candidates for Cyprus presidency". The Irish Times. 2003-01-18. p. 13. 
  9. ^ a b "Poll candidate champions free love in Cyprus". The Independent. 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  10. ^ "Cypriots speed up talks". Kathimerini. 2003-01-18. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  11. ^ "Search for national symbols to unite Cyprus". Financial Times. 2003-01-24. p. 10. 
  12. ^ Steele, Jonathan (2003-01-28). "UN calls for a flag to unite Cyprus". The Guardian. p. 17. 
  13. ^ "Greek Cypriot opposition leader sweeps to shock election victory". The Scotsman. 2003-02-17. p. 11. 
  14. ^ Smith, Helena (2003-02-15). "Election holds key to peace in Cyprus: Defeat of veteran leader may threaten reunification moves". The Guardian. p. 18. 
  15. ^ Theodoulou, Michael (2003-02-17). "Opposition leader wins race for Greek Cypriot presidency". The Times. p. 16. 
  16. ^ "Defeat of Clerides clouds hopes for Cyprus agreement GREEK CYPRIOT ELECTION UNEXPECTEDLY EASY VICTORY FOR PAPADOPOULOS". Financial Times. 2003-02-17. p. 7. 
  17. ^ Jansen, Michael (2003-02-17). "Opposition victorious in Cyprus election". The Irish Times. p. 7. 
  18. ^ "New Cypriot leader 'eager' for talks". BBC Online. 2003-02-18. Retrieved 2009-05-28.