The Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, has thrown his weight behind President Nicos Anastasiades, ahead of the incumbent’s run-off vote against a leftist challenger.
Anastasiades and communist-backed independent Stavros Malas will face off on Sunday to see who will become the eighth president of the Republic of Cyprus.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Anastasiades at the presidential palace in Nicosia on Friday, the clergyman predicted Malas “will not be elected”.
Malas has ruled out a rule for the church in appointing Cyprus’ education minister, if he is elected on Sunday.
Chrysostomos said the Orthodox Church would back Anastasiades in his bid for another five-year term.
Anastasiades had gone into Sunday’s election as the favorite in a campaign dominated by the economy and stalled efforts to reunify the divided island.
Among the nine candidates for the top job — all male — the center-right Democratic Rally leader was projected to win the first round.
However, although Cyprus’ economy has improved since 2013, failed UN-backed peace talks over reuniting the island in July last year, collapsed.