Al Jazeera

Nicos Anastasiades is heading for a second five-year term as president of the Republic of Cyprus, initial exit polls have projected.

A forecast by state broadcaster CyBC after polls closed on Sunday put support for the incumbent conservative at an average of 56.5 percent, within a range of 54.5 percent to 59.5 percent.

The estimate placed Anastasiades, 71, ahead of his 50-year-old rival Stavros Malas, a leftist-backed independent who is expected to gain an average of 42.75 percent, within a range of 40.5 percent to 45.5 percent.

Separate exit polls by other major TV networks also showed Anastasiades leading the race.

The projections sparked scenes of joy in Anastasiades’s campaign headquarters in central Nicosia.

“The result is a cause for optimism for the next five years,” Ioannis Hasikos, a 35-year-old lawyer, said.

Polls closed at 6pm (16:00 GMT). A final result is expected within 90 minutes.

The runoff ballot was a repeat of the 2013 presidential election, which was won by Anastasiades with 57.48 percent of the vote.

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