The Cypriot presidential election (in the Greek part of the island) is now concluded. Today’s runoff was won by Demetris Christofias (55.4% to 46.6% for Ioannis Kasoulides).
But the remarkable thing is what happened a week ago, in the first round. The incumbent, Tassos Papadopoulos, failed to even make the runoff (Kasoulides led the first round, 33.51%, then Christofias 33.29%, and Papadopoulos 31.79%).
Where presidents are eligible for immediate reelection, defeat is pretty rare. Failing to place even in the top two must be really rare. Can anyone think of another case? I can’t.1
Presidential elections that are this close among the top three are likewise very rare. I have a dataset for a project in which I have 124 presidential elections, and the only one similar would be Uruguay in 1994: 32.3 – 31.2 – 30.6 in a race decided by plurality; however, given the Uruguayan system at that time, those are party, rather than candidate votes.2 Ecuador has some cases very close among the top three in a field in which no one even broke 30% (in a first round). Those 124 cases are all from Latin America. There may be examples elsewhere, but off the top of my head, none come to mind.
- Perhaps Jacques Chirac deserves an honorable mention here. As the incumbent he managed less than 20% in his reelection bid in 2002, but that was a plurality and he did manage to win, thanks to facing Le Pen in the runoff. [↩]
- Thus Uruguay is a special case that arguably could be ruled inadmissible here. Under the former system of Uruguay the winner was the candidate with the most votes within the party with the plurality–essentially a presidential election by “open-list plurality.” [↩]