Right-wing ruling party wins Turkish Cypriot election

Pledge to maintain close link with Ankara: ‘We may be two states but we are one nation’

Prime minister Faiz Sucuoglu alongside his wife casts his ballot at a polling station in the northern part of Cyprus’s divided capital Nicosia, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Photograph: Getty

Prime minister Faiz Sucuoglu alongside his wife casts his ballot at a polling station in the northern part of Cyprus’s divided capital Nicosia, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Photograph: Getty

 

The ruling right-wing Turkish Cypriot National Union party won Sunday’s early parliamentary election but failed to win a majority, according to results announced on Monday by the election commission. The party is set to hold 24 of the assembly’s 50 seats, three more than in the outgoing legislature.

After the results were declared, National Union head Faiz Sucuoglu pledged to maintain the close relationship with Ankara. “We may be two states but we are one nation,” he said, suggesting that the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state is the southern part of the Turkish nation.

His party follows Turkey’s lead by calling for a “two-state solution” on Cyprus through recognition of Turkish Cypriot independence rather than internationally-mandated reunification in a federation.

The main opposition Republican Turkish party, which supports reunification of the island, came second in the election with 18 seats, doubling its previous representation, while three smaller parties secured enough votes to be allocated a combined total of eight seats, making them likely candidates for coalition.

Three other small parties did not pass the 5 per cent threshold to enter parliament and two leftist parties boycotted the election. Ahead of polling day, they published a letter to UN secretary General António Guterres saying that Turkey’s growing involvement in the north’s political affairs made it impossible for Turkish Cypriots to express their will through the ballot.

Turkey was accused of intervening in the 2020 presidential election to secure a narrow victory for its candidate Ersin Tatar, a ruling party stalwart.

Breakaway north

Republican Turkish party spokesman Tufan Erhürman vowed to adopt a tougher stance against “wrongful” policies. The party backs a federation to end the division of the island between the EU member republic and the breakaway north, which is recognised only by Turkey. Ankara occupied the region in 1974 following a failed coup by the Athens military junta.

The election campaign focused on the sinking Turkish Cypriot economy, which is closely linked to the crisis-ridden Turkish economy. Turkish Cypriots have called for abandonment of the Turkish currency, which has lost 44 per cent of its value in relation to the dollar, and adoption of the euro.

UN-brokered negotiations between the two sides of the island were suspended in 2017 and resumption has been complicated by Turkish adoption of the “two-state solution” which Greek Cypriots reject.

While the Covid-19 pandemic barred election rallies of more than 150 people and voting by infected people, apathy among the nearly 204,000 registered voters was deemed responsible for the low turnout of 57.62 per cent. Among the 403 candidates were 131 women.