It was a busy weekend for European democracy as voters in Cyprus and Italy took the polls to elect new leaders. They will have the difficult task of trying to save their nations from the impacts of the Euro crisis and restore growth to their economies.
In Cyprus, conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades won the second round of the presidential election by one of the biggest majorities in 30 years. He won 57.48% of the vote far ahead of his closest challenger the left-wing Stavros Malas.
The new President now faces difficult talks with the indebted islands foreign lenders over a much needed financial bailout. Eight months of inconclusive talks on a bailout package have turned tiny Cyprus into a big headache for the Euro zone, triggering fears of a financial collapse that could reignite the regions debt crisis.
Anastasiades quickly showed his pro-Europe stance by saying; “We want Europe on our side. We will be absolutely consistent and meet our promises. Cyprus belongs to Europe, Anastasiades told jubilant supporters blowing horns. We will restore the credibility of Cyprus in Europe and internationally. I promise you.” He also hinted that he would shift Cyprus away from the influence of Russia and forge a closer relationship with Europe.
The new President takes control of a nation struggling to cope with its worst financial crisis in 40 years. With tax hikes, pay cuts and unemployment hitting a record high of 15% he will face a tough challenge to keep the Cypriot population onside whilst he tries to negotiate a bailout.
Meanwhile in Italy, voters have taken to the polls for a second and final day as they take a crucial vote that could have wide reaching consequences for the Euro. So far Pier Luigi Bersani is believed to have a small lead over Silvio Berlusconi. There is huge uncertainty over the outcome. If the favourite Bersani loses to Berlusconi or another of the entrants then we can expect the Euro to weaken.
Current Euro exchange rates
As of 10:30 am
The Euro to Pound Sterling exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 0.8753
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.3263
The Euro to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2874
The Euro to New Zealand Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.5800