Pro-unification candidates vie for the Cypriot presidency
Today, incumbent President Nicos Anastasia of the Democratic Rally party faces independent Stavros Malas in a runoff election for the five-year presidency. As expected, Anastasides won the first round with 35.5%, while Malas closely followed with 30.2%, a demonstration of overall support for leftist leadership.
The contest draws attention to the increased likelihood of reunification with the ethnically Turkish North, as both candidates have campaigned on the departure from the decades-long strife with the North in search of restored national unity.
However, Cypriots are more concerned with economic recovery than any potential reunification, a decades-long issue that has bleak prospects of improvement. Emerging from the 2013 bailout program, Cyrpus has demonstrated steady growth; since 2016, during Anastasiades’ administration, GDP has increased and unemployment has decreased. Workers and businesses are still recovering from wage slashes and tax hikes under austerity measures, which Malas seeks to counter by establishing a minimum wage and supporting the middle class with nonperforming loans.
Following the January 31 televised debate, it is likely that Anastasiades will be reelected due to his experience and revival of Cyprus’ economic reputation.
COSTA RICA VOTES
Social policies at the forefront of voter concern
The first round of Costa Rica’s presidential elections will be held today, with same-sex marriage looking to be the decisive issue.
Recently, public opinions have shifted to favour more conservative candidates, like Congressman Fabricio Alvarado Rocafor. Debate has focused on the incumbent government’s push to recognise same-sex unions. This follows an opinion requested from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has urged Costa Rica to legalise same-sex marriage due to its international human rights obligations.
Fabricio Alvarado, the conservative frontrunner, has pledged to withdraw the country from the court’s jurisdiction in order to protect what many view as Costa Rica’s traditional values. Some, like the former left-leaning justice minister, Carlos Alvarado, support the court’s ruling.
With almost 30% of the population still polling as undecided, there is the possibility of significant political change in the short-term. Expect Fabricio Alvarado to take first, while Carlos Alvarado and Libertarian Antonio Desanti battle to advance to the runoff.
Ecuador holds referendum on presidential term limits
Ecuadorians go to the polls today to decide whether to institute a two-term limit on their country’s presidency.
The referendum was put forward by President Lenin Moreno in an implicit rebuke of his predecessor, Rafael Correa. Having served as Correa’s vice president, Moreno was initially expected to hold to the left-wing ex-president’s line and step aside for him in the 2021 election. However, Moreno has shown considerable independence, sacking a Correa loyalist from the vice presidency and making outreach to conservatives.
Voters look set to approve the new term limits, with one poll showing 70% in favour. That result would bar Correa from office; while he would remain a left-wing agitator with a loyal support base, he would stand little chance of returning to the heights of power.
In addition to spoiling a Correa comeback, a referendum win for Moreno would strengthen his independence from the ex-president, allowing him to continue outreach across ideological lines to address problems, like anaemic economic growth. Such a move would be a balancing act; if Moreno seeks reelection he will need some support from Correa’s base.