The two leading candidates to emerge from Sunday's election will have to seek support from the seven other candidates ahead of the February 4 ballot.

File photo shows an elderly woman voting in the presidential election in southern port city of Limassol, Cyprus, Sunday, February 24, 2013.
File photo shows an elderly woman voting in the presidential election in southern port city of Limassol, Cyprus, Sunday, February 24, 2013. (AP)

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades looks set for a run-off against a dovish challenger after he failed to win a majority at a vote on Sunday despite finishing first, an exit poll showed.

A forecast by state broadcaster CyBC after polls closed puts the conservative incumbent on 38-42 percent, ahead of Communist-backed Stavros Malas' 27-31 percent, as the divided Mediterranean island weighs up whether to make a fresh push to reunite.

If the exit poll proves right, the two candidates will go head-to-head in a second round of voting next Sunday.

TRT World's Iolo ap Dafydd has the latest.

As always, the nearly 44-year division of the island between the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus and a Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north looms large.

In July, two years of UN-backed talks between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci came closer than ever to reunifying the island but then collapsed in acrimony.

Despite the failure to bridge key issues, Anastasiades, who is seeking a second and final five-year term in the European Union's most easterly member, has pledged to restart talks.

Iolo ap Dafydd gives more background on the issue.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies