Conceit in Turkish Cypriot politics

Conceit in Turkish Cypriot politics

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus held a general election on Jan. 7 and the Turkish Cypriot people defined the size of the political parties. No one has the right to say the people made the wrong choices.

It was a free and fair election that conformed to the legal framework. Although the new election law was a rather complicated one and the huge percentage of invalid votes was probably a direct product of that crooked system, everyone competed under the same law and the same conditions. Therefore, no one has the right to claim electoral fraud.

During the elections, irrespective of how happy or how sad the politicians and political observers might be with the results, the people made their decision on how the northern Turkish Cypriot state was to be governed. Is there a need for political conceit? Is there a need to act like a spoiled kid? Is there a need to act like a political lombard? Definitely not.

In any case, it is not the time for spoiled politics when a new Cyprus exercise might be around the corner. There is an escalation of tensions over counter claims on offshore petrochemical resources and the Turkish Cypriot state has been deadlocked due to the absence of a budget.

Indeed, Democratic Party (DP) leader and Finance Minister Serdar Denktaş had warned National Unity Party (UBP) leader and main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) chairperson Tufan Erhürman that Jan. 7 was inappropriate and at least two more weeks were needed to legislate the 2018 budget. However, the leaders of the two biggest parties insisted. Now, although there is money in state coffers, since there is no budget, government expenditures could not be financed and thus, the state has come to a halt.

Now, irrespective of where we might stand on the political spectrum, the reality is the UBP arose from the general election as the “biggest” party, yet deficient of forming a one-party government. It produced 21 seats, five seats less than the required parliamentary majority for a single party government. Erhürman and his CTP were expecting a far better result, but compared to the previous elections, they suffered a performance fiasco and though the CTP had 21 seats in the previous parliament, this went down to 11.

Denktaş’s DP had been performing badly before the election. Public opinion polls had mostly claimed it probably would not overcome the 5 percent electoral threshold. Indeed, it lost the clout provided by the political heavy weights it took over from the UBP in the run-up to the previous election and suffered a serious depreciation, yet still received sufficient votes to send parliament three deputies.

The People’s Party (HP) of former chief negotiator Kudret Özersay was a political newcomer. It was expecting to score a major victory and come to power alone. It performed well, but not sufficient enough and sent parliament nine seats. The New Birth Party (YDP), another political newcomer considered to be the party of the people from Anatolia, campaigned on a rather far right platform, yet it was given sufficient support to enter parliament with two seats. Together with the DP, these two parties became the “king makers” of the new legislature, as the UBP needed the support of one or more and the CTP needed the support of all to come to power. Obviously, the arithmetic of seats scattered in parliament made it difficult to form a coalition government. Past animosities and election campaign rhetoric parties used against each other made things far more difficult.

The HP and the CTP have adamantly declared their disinterest in establishing a coalition with the UBP on the grounds that its leader had been corrupt. Indeed, there have been rampant speculations about the UBP leader’s bedroom affairs and incredible monetary activity in its bank account. The HP and CTP’s demands for clean politics and transparent governance must be appreciated, though there have been serious claims of mismanagement against the CTP as well.

In any case, the Turkish Cypriot people and the state should not be left without a government, irrespective of whether it would be a two-way, three-way or perhaps a four-way government. No political party should act like a spoiled child or a politically conceit newcomer, hide behind some verified or unverified claims and run away from responsibility.

Yusuf Kanlı,