Cyprus elections: Nicos Anastasiades, center-right candidate, 'ahead'


President of the Democratic Rally of Cyprus (DISY) and presidential candidate Nicos Anastasiades is pictured before giving a speech during a campaign meeting on February 7, 2013 in Nicosia. The first round of Cyprus' presidential election took place on February 17.


Alex Mita

Nicos Anastasiades was ahead at the polls in Cyprus, where citizens cast their ballots for the presidency Sunday.

The center-right candidate has been tipped to win the elections, and exit polls and unofficial results have him pulling in anywhere from 49 percent to 52 percent of the vote, BBC News reported

In order to clinch the victory outright, Anastasiades needs at least 50 percent plus one vote from all ballots cast; if not, the two top candidates enter a runoff election next weekend, the Associated Press explained

Polls show the center-right politician has a good 15-point lead over second-place, leftist candidate Stavros Malas, but the two could face off if Anastasiades doesn't secure the 50 percent he needs, according to Reuters

Giorgos Lillikas is neck-in-neck for second place with Malas: Malas had 27.23 percent of the vote, according to exit polls, while Lillikas had 25.2 percent, AP reported. 

Anastasiades is the most pro-bailout candidate, which has been the central issue in Cyprus' elections. 

"Everything is at stake, like it has never been before," said Kyriakos Iacovides, publisher of the Cyprus Mail newspaper, according to Reuters. "The country must be rebuilt, Cyprus must be rehabilitated in the EU. We need a strong leadership to rebuild the country."

More from GlobalPost: Why a ‘small’ bailout for little Cyprus is a big deal