Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades speaks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cyprus went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament in a vote surveys suggest could be won by conservatives backing the presidential incumbent leading peace talks on the ethnically split island.

Just over 540,000 people have the right to vote for 56 deputies in Cyprus's House of Representatives, typically seen as a tussle between the right-wing Democratic Rally and the communist AKEL, with the centrist Democratic Party in third place.

Although Cyprus has an executive system of government and the president is elected separately, the vote on Sunday is a popularity gauge for President Nicos Anastasiades, whose term expires in 2018.

Anastasiades represents Greek Cypriots in talks with Turkish Cypriots to reunify the island, split in a 1974 Turkish military invasion triggered by a brief Greece-inspired coup. Diplomats are cautiously optimistic a solution could be in sight for the long-running conflict.

Opinion polls are placing Rally in the lead, with AKEL following, with no one party seen gaining an absolute majority. Voting started at 0400 GMT (0000 EDT) and was scheduled to end at 1600 GMT (1200 EDT).