THE OVERWHELMING majority of Greek Cypriots want to see a meeting between President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, a new poll published yesterday revealed.
According to the poll, commissioned and published in Politis newspaper and carried out mid-month by Noverna, showed 76.9 per cent in favour of a meeting between the two leaders.
The number is considered significant, since 75.8 per cent rejected the Annan plan in the 2004 referendum.
On Sunday in the first part of the three-part poll, the figures showed Papadopoulos still leading the presidential race with 28 per cent, but down 3.2 points on a poll in June.
It gave 26.5 per cent to AKEL general-secretary Demetris Christofias, an increase of 3.3 per cent since June. Earlier this month, AKEL pulled out of the tripartite government alliance to field Christofias as its own candidate.
DISY’s Ioannis Kasoulides also did well on the poll, garnering support of 26.8 per cent, a rise of 0.6 per cent over June. Over 18 per cent of those polled however did not express support for any of the candidates. This figure was down 1.1 per cent since June.
Papadopoulos had the most support in Paphos, with 36 per cent. Paphos was also the place where the highest percentage – 82 per cent – voted against the Annan plan.
In Limassol, the biggest percentage, 31 per cent gave their support to Christofias whereas Kasoulides gleaned around one quarter of the votes in each of the four main districts.
In yesterday’s poll, the strongest desire for a Papadopoulos-Talat meeting was in the 45-64 age group, where nearly 83 per cent said they would like to see a meeting between the two leaders. Those aged 18-24 were less enthusiastic at 61.6 per cent.
The desire was strongest among the voters of AKEL and DISY (both 79 per cent) EDEK (72 per cent) and DIKO (85 per cent).
Only 44.7 per cent of European Party (EVROKO) voters, who support Papadopoulos, wanted the leaders to meet.
Voters polled the three candidates positively as interlocuters. However, 36 per cent preferred Papadopoulos to deal with the international community, compared with 32 per cent for Kasoulides and 29 for Christofias. When it came to talking with the Turkish Cypriots, voters would prefer Christofias, who raced ahead with 40 per cent. The other two candidates came in some 10 per cent short
Oddly, nearly one fifth of DIKO voters thought Christofias would be better suited than Papadopoulos to talk to the Turkish Cypriots and one quarter of AKEL voters thought Papadopoulos would be better at handling the international community. Similar percentages within DISY also gave a nod to Papadopoulos as an interlocutor.
The poll also included a section on the politics of Archbishop Chrysostomos, an outspoken hardliner on the Cyprus issue. Six out of ten people polled thought he should keep out of the political arena and did not approve of his position on the national question.
AKEL voters spoke out more strongly than the other parties, with 72 per cent disapproving of the Archbishop’s stance. Just over half of DISY and DIKO voters disapproved.
Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said yesterday there would be many polls leading up to the elections in February that would “have many interesting characteristics and elements”.
Asked to comment on the three per cent slip in Papadopoulos` popularity. Palma said it was not a cause for concern. He said it was logical that since AKEL pulled out of the government, its voters would switch their support to Christofias.