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Cyprus Chooses President as Bailout Deal Looms

But some voters said they're under no illusion that a new president will turn the economy around quickly.

"Whoever is elected isn't some kind of magician to pull us out of trouble right away," said 31-year-old Antigone who didn't give her last name.

Xanthoula Charalambous, 59, said: "We face an uncertain future ... we hope for change, but we can't be certain of anything."

Yiannis Hadjisavvas said he expects no real change from this election. "We're already going backward economically, how far back we might go doesn't even depend on us anymore," the 37-year-old said.

Cyprus got into trouble after its banks, whose assets are bigger than the country's entire economy, took huge losses when Greece restructured its debt. The country, with a shrinking economy and jobless rate at almost 15 percent, has already reached a preliminary bailout agreement with its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund and has enacted a raft of spending cuts and tax increases.

But Cyprus' help request is meeting resistance from some quarters, especially Germany, that says the country's banks serves as money laundering hubs for Russian oligarchs, or that is too small to matter since it contributes about 0.15 percent to the euro area economy.

The size of the bailout, estimated to be up to 17 billion euros ($22.65 billion) which is equivalent to Cyprus' entire economic output, has put into question whether the country would ever be able to pay it back.

The crisis has overtaken the country's ethnic division as the primary campaign issue in some 40 years. Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkish invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The latest round of reunification talks between Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu resulted in deadlock.

Just over 545,000 Cypriots are eligible to vote.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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