NICOSIA Ė Polling officials were dispatching ballot boxes on Friday as organization was underway for the island nationís upcoming presidential election.
The first round was set for Sunday, while a second round run-off vote was expected to take place Feb. 4 between the two candidates who garner the most votes, should no candidate secure an outright win of over 50 percent in the first round.
Incumbent conservative President Nikos Anastasiades was the favorite, though he was not expected to take a clear majority in the first round.
Nine candidates would be battling it out in a bid to assume the role of president, though only two were serious contenders for Anastasiades: independent candidate Stavros Malas, who is backed by the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), and Nikolas Papadopoulos of the centrist Democratic Party (DIKO).
The islandís economy and broken-down negotiations on unification have been the main topics around the election, with the presidentís rivals claiming he had done nothing for the middle and working classes.
The latest surveys published by three pollsters showed Anastasiades with a clear advantage over his two main rivals, with between 30-32 percent support.
Malas and Papadopoulos were in a tight race for second place, both with between 18-20 percent of the voting intention.