Cypriot head of state Tassos Papadopoulos failed to progress to the second round of the presidential election in Cyprus on 17 February. In the closest election in Cypriot history, Papadopoulos, of the Democratic Coaliation (DISY) won 31.79% of the vote, behind serving MEP Ioannis Kasoulides, also from DISY, who won 33.51% of votes, just ahead of Demetris Christofias, leader of the communist Working People's Progressive Party (AKEL), who won 33.29%. The margin between Kasoulides and Christofias was just 980 votes.
The two candidates will face each other in the second round on 24 February, and the winner will take office on 28 February. The election is being seen as a crucial step towards reunification with breakaway northern Cyprus, which has been controlled by Turkey since it invaded in 1974.
Mr Kasoulides is the candidate most favoured by the international community to push ahead with reunification talks. Mr Papadopoulos's defeat has been interpreted that his uncompromising approach to solving the Cyprus problem has failed; in their campaign, both Mr Kasoulides and Mr Christofias offered to lead negotiations with the Turkish north, leading to a potential reunification. Shortly before joining the European Union in 2004, Greek Cypriots rejected a UN proposal to reunify the island.
18 February 2008