The people of Cyprus are voting on Sunday for a new president at a time when the country’s perilous economic situation is casting a new shadow over the eurozone.
The threat of national bankruptcy has blown away the island’s Greek-Turkish divide as the main issue for just over half a million voters.
Opinion polls suggest conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades is in a commanding position. The 66-year-old promises a quick agreement on an international bailout.
He is 15 to 20 points ahead of his left wing rival, Stavros Malas, a communist-backed independent.
The third main candidate Giorgos Lillikas who has socialist support is against an international loan, arguing it would make the recession worse.
Cypriots have seen unemployment soar to 15 per cent, while they have endured cuts to pay and benefits as well as tax hikes to prepare for a bailout.
Banks suffered huge losses from Greece’s sovereign debt restructuring. The island estimates it needs 17 billion euros – the value of its whole economy.
Unless one candidate gains an outright majority in Sunday’s first round – an outcome thought unlikely – a presidential run-off will take place next week.