By Murat Demirci
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (AA) - The Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus will go to polls on Sunday to elect its new leader.
Sunday's presidential election will not only determine the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration and social policies but also the person who will stand in for the Cyprus negotiations.
According to recent surveys ahead of the election, current President Nicos Anastasiades is taking the lead with 34.2 percent.
Nicholas Papadopoulos of the center-right DIKO party and Stavros Malas, backed by the communist-linked AKEL party, are the main opponents of Anastasiades, who is the candidate of the ruling center-right Democratic Rally party (DISY).
Giorgos Lillikas, a candidate from Citizens' Alliance, Christou Christos of the National People's Front (ELAM), Party of Justice candidate Michael Minas and independent candidates Haris Aristidou, Christakis Kapiliotis and Andreas Evstratiu will also be competing for the presidential post on Sunday.
There are 550,876 registered electorates in Southern Cyprus, 657 of whom are Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriot administration will establish voting centers for those 11,683 electorates abroad, including in various cities of Greece, and other cities such as Berlin, Vienna and New York.
In case any candidate is unable to pass the 50 percent election threshold, two of the top ranking leaders will compete again the week after.
The surveys also revealed that Malas is at 23.1 percent while Papadopulos was at 22.6 percent.
If Anastasiades wins the Greek Cypriot elections, peace negotiations with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are expected to restart. Malas, on the other hand, also encourages the restart of the negotiations without any preconditions.
Cyprus has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, with the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. collapsing in 2017.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the talks’ failure, also faulting the European Union for admitting Cyprus as a divided island into the union in 2004 after the Greek Cypriot administration rejected a peace deal.
The Eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is currently recognized only by Turkey as an independent state.