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Tassos in the lead

By Charlie Charalambous


New poll shows Tassos in lead - Undecided will determine who will be president

President Tassos Papadopoulos has extended the lead over his rivals in the three-way 2008 presidential race, a new poll indicates.

The incumbent has edged further in the polls with 30.2%, 2.2% up on his last showing in July when Politis newspaper last published its poll.

Akel chief Demetris Christofias was in second place on 26.9% while ex-Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides trailed in third on 26.2% and also-ran Costas Themistocleous with 1.2%.

Christofias saw his stock in trade rise by 0.4% while Kasoulides slipped 0.6% in comparison to the previous Politis survey conducted by Noverna.

Analysts said the contenders for president had failed to consolidate party support enough to block Papadopoulos from taking a clear advantage.

However, the large undecided vote of 15.5% means each of the candidates has a fighting chance and Papadopoulos cannot rest on his laurels.

Papadopoulos seems to have better consolidated support among the parties that back him while stealing votes from Akel and Disy.

Like never before, every vote will count in the 2008 elections earmarked for February 17. More than likely, the presidential election will go to a run-off on the second Sunday of February 24.

Papadopopulos enjoys a bedrock of support from those aged over 45 and has Paphos in his pocket.

Meanwhile, Christofias needs to improve allegiance among Akel's rank-and-file, which stands at 75%. The Akel boss is ahead of the rest in Larnaca and Famagusta and very strong in Limassol.

Kasoulides has also been able to lock-down Disy voters and is the most popular among young voters with solid backing in the capital.

Support

Second round scenarios also indicate victory for Papadopoulos against either of his rivals, although he fares much better against Kasoulides.

The incumbent received 38.2% against the Akel leader's 35.1%. Christofias has halved the gap since the last poll.

When pitted against Kasoulides, Papadopoulos secured a much larger margin of 44.6% to 31.1%.

The Papadopoulos-Kasoulides scenario suggests the president could rely on a huge swathe of Akel votes reluctant to support a Disy-backed candidate.

Nevertheless, in a second round face-off Christofias also beats Kasoulides by a comfortable 39% against 32.8%.

Many of those polled had little faith in any of the candidates eradicating perceived corruption in public life and believed the "TRNC's" upgrade in status was a given.

The survey of 800 respondents was conducted from October 4-10.

Lack of progress on the Cyprus issue is influencing the electorate.

When asked whether Papadopoulos was doing a good job on the Cyprus problem – 48% of respondents said they were satisfied while 44% were unsatisfied.

Christofias got a 39% approval rating and Kasoulides 52% disapproval rating on the Cyprus problem.

The incumbent was also viewed as the best candidate to secure unity among Greek Cypriots and a safe pair of hands on economic policy.

Soft

The 73-year-old is up against the island's two largest parties communist Akel and the right-wing opposition Disy - which are trying to depose him.

Both Edek and Diko back Papadopoulos after rejecting the proposal that Christofias, 60, stand as the government coalition's "common candidate" in 2008.

Diko and Edek endorse Papadopoulos for a second five-year term and criticise Akel and DISY for being "soft" on the Cyprus problem.

In July, Akel backed Christofias for the presidency, the first time in its 81-year history that it decided to field a candidate from within its own ranks for the island's top job.

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