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Marked presence of invalid votes and abstentions
THE HIGH abstention rate, counter-balanced by a high occurrence of invalid votes, were what shaped the result of yesterday’s presidential elections.
The final tally stood at 57.48 per cent for Anastasiades, compared to 42.52 per cent for Malas. In the first vote, the respective numbers had been 45.46 per cent and 26.91 per cent.
The gap between the two contenders was around 18 per cent, almost the same as recorded during the first round, when Nicos Anastasiades had secured 45.46 per cent to Stavros Malas’ 26.91 per cent.
The figures suggest that in yesterday’s run-off the electorate was divided along more or less the same lines, with each of the two candidates drawing their ‘allotted share’ from the supporters of independent Giorgos Lillikas, knocked out of the race the previous Sunday.
Despite boasting the highest second-round result in the post-1974 period, Anastasiades increased his numbers by only 12 per cent compared to the first Sunday, whereas Malas raised his by an impressive 15 per cent.
Malas’ numbers grew by 57,000 compared to the first round, compared to an extra 37,000 votes for Anastasiades.
Echoing other commentators, political analyst Christoforos Christoforou said the outcome was no surprise; the omens for the outgoing AKEL government did not bode well.
“I think this was the best Malas could achieve under the circumstances, given the deep economic crisis and the Mari incident,” he said.
Abstention works in favour of the candidate who was in the lead. But this was apparently offset by the high number of invalid votes.
By mathematically extrapolating the first-round result, the second-round tally should have been 60 to 40 per cent. Instead, Anastasiades managed just over 57 per cent.
The turnout yesterday stood at 81.58 per cent, slightly lower than the 83.14 per cent a week ago. There was, however, a marked presence of invalid ballots (blank and null), which accounted for 7.36 per cent of votes cast - a significant amount.
This suggests that a small portion of the electorate may have followed the advice of socialists EDEK and of Lillikas, who had instructed his voter pool not to choose any of the two remaining contenders.
This was perhaps best demonstrated in Paphos - a Lillikas stronghold - where invalid ballots accounted for a whopping 10 per cent.
The numbers suggest the invalid votes worked more against Anastasiades than Malas, said Christoforou.
Data gleaned from exit polls indicated that Anastasiades got an extra 5 to 6 percentage points from DIKO and EDEK supporters - those who voted for Lillikas in the first round - about 2 to 3 points from the European Party, another point from the Greens, and the rest from first-time voters.
About 53 per cent of new voters are estimated to have ticked Anastasiades’ name on the ballot.
Antenna’s exit poll suggested that some 60 per cent of people employed in the private-sector voted for Anastasiades, meaning a significant portion (40 per cent) chose Malas despite his being backed by the outgoing leftist government.
Malas in turn is estimated to have obtained an additional 5 to 6 percentage points from the so-called ‘Lillikas camp’, 4 to 5 points from EDEK, and the rest from DIKO and others.
Yesterday’s exit polls fared little better than they had last time round; despite a 4 to 5 percentage margin of error, most pollsters overshot the maximum score projected for Anastasiades.
CyBC’s exit poll broadcast at 6.05pm poll gave Anastasiades 57.5 to 61.5 per cent, Malas 38.5 to 42.5 per cent. And Antenna posted 58 to 62 per cent for Anastasiades, 38 to 42 per cent for Malas.
An early analysis of CyBC’s exit poll gave a speculative breakdown of the source of Anastasiades’ votes: 73 per cent from DISY, 13.3 per cent from DIKO, 4.2 per cent from AKEL, another 4.2 per cent from EDEK and 5.3 per cent from other political parties and movements.
Still, it seems the two election HQs knew sooner than the general public which way the wind was blowing.
Earlier in the day, the Mail was told that an internal rolling poll conducted by DISY throughout the week gave their man anywhere from 58 to 62 per cent. AKEL’s own number-crunching had come up with similar results.