A left-right coalition in northern Cyprus

A left-right coalition in northern Cyprus

After days of bargaining, the socialist Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) tied the knot with the third biggest party, the Democrat Party-Nationalist Forces (DP-UG), and will probably announce today a new coalition government. This was not an easy decision for either the CTP or the DP-UG, but they managed to put old grievances behind them and managed to take a step forward together – at least for the time being.

Talking yesterday with a senior CTP deputy – who most likely will have a seat in the new Cabinet pending the leaders’ go-ahead amid initial plans to establish a technocratic Cabinet – I saw the will and determination to remain loyal this time to their partners, the DP. Well, no marriage can be established with the assumption that one of the partners will cheat on the other, but life, like a river, runs in its own bed… The last time the CTP and the DP were together in government, the CTP cheated the DP, engaging in a distasteful and indecent affair with Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). The duo bought three deputies from the National Unity Party (UBP) and the DP, establishing the Freedom and Reform Party (ÖRP) or, as it was later called, the “Kiss me party.” Disgusting enough, the founding leader of the ÖRP was the secretary-general of the UBP until he defected.

At the time I was in Krakow, Poland, for a conference together with Serdar Denktaş, the DP leader. He was shocked by the news that the CTP-DP coalition had collapsed and that a new CTP-ÖRP coalition had been established. 

“I knew we were parting but [then CTP leader and Premier Ferdi Sabit] Soyer had promised me to wait until I returned,” Denktaş said. 

How did he forget all this to start a new coalition affair with the CTP? Well, I was told there is a new team; a fresh beginning… Nothing absurd in that, how many couples that parted on bad terms remarry? Let’s hope this time that the AKP cannot succeed in wooing the CTP into engaging in some indecent actions again.

My friends in the CTP assured me that they were indeed a new team and that they would remain loyal to their word to the DP. Besides, they said, the AKP was demanding at the time to remove the Denktaş family from the governance of northern Cyprus. Legendary founding President Rauf Denktaş is now dead. Serdar Denktaş is trying to walk his own way. The AKP should no longer have any fears from the Denktaş family. Besides, since the previous trauma, Serdar Denktaş has made so many trips to Ankara and met PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top AKP figures so many times to patch things up. He has probably succeeded, but we will see that in the weeks and months ahead. 

The CTP-DP coalition was the only alternative to the CTP-UBP grand coalition expectation in Ankara. Such a coalition would be easier to compromise on the Cyprus issue as well as have the strength to implement the painful economic restructuring program Turkey has been imposing on Turkish Cypriots for the past four years. The CTP-DP coalition will perhaps be tested before such a “difficult option” for the CTP can be achieved.

In any case, going through the 77-page “Convergences 2008-20012” document prepared by the U.N. secretary-general’s special Cyprus team headed by Alexander Downer it was difficult not to see how discernible a Cyprus deal has indeed become, despite all my pessimism. Provided the two sides develop a will for a compromise deal, with some exaggeration, I could say a few weeks might be enough to strike a bitter compromise deal.

Perhaps the CTP-DP coalition government in the north is just the ticket needed now.