Cyprus is still hot
Even though autumn has already started, Cyprus is very much experiencing a late spring. With daytime temperatures still hovering at around 25 degrees Celsius and night temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius, the island remains as tempting as ever.
In terms of Politics, however, Cyprus is also warming up for winter elections. January will be a very important month for both Greek and Turkish Cypriot peoples of the island. This weekend, most of the Turkish Cypriot political parties went through preparations to establish their lists of candidates for the upcoming Jan. 7, 2018 parliamentary elections. In the south, the Greek Cypriot section of the island, a campaign is underway for the Jan. 28, 2018 presidential elections.
Who will be the winners? Though it is too early to make a prediction now, it is almost certain that in the absence of any serious contender, the current President Nicos Anastasiades will secure a victory, if not in the first round, then in the second round of voting on Feb. 4, 2018.
In Turkish Cypriot areas, however, there might be some serious surprises emerging from the ballot boxes. On the left, the socialist Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) appears to be stronger than it was in 2013, but is still not powerful enough to come to power alone. In the 2013 elections, the CTP got 38.4 percent of the overall vote and secured 21 seats in the unicameral 50-seat Turkish Cypriot legislature.
Largely because of the rejuvenation it underwent over the past year, the CTP is expected to repeat more or less the same performance it showed in the Jan. 7 elections. Most of the “old guards” of the party are not running in the upcoming election, including two former CTP premiers and a parliamentary speaker,
Even though public opinion polls show that the majority partner of the current conservative coalition, the National Unity Party (UBP) will lose some standing, the party is still expected to perform strongly in the election. In the 2013 elections, the UBP received 27.3 percent of the vote, came second, and reserved 14 seats in parliament. Four deputies joined the party after the elections. In the new parliament, it is anticipated to have around 14 again.
The junior coalition partner Democrat Party (DP) of Serdar Denktaş won 23 percent of the vote in 2013 and procured 12 seats. After the elections, some deputies resigned and the DP’s parliamentary strength depreciated first to eight and later to seven seats. Now it appears to be in serious difficulty and might have trouble sending deputies to parliament because of the five-percent electoral threshold.
The biggest surprise in the Turkish Cypriot elections will be the Populist Party (HP) of former chief negotiator Kudret Özersay. Can it really come to power alone in the Jan. 7 elections? Probably not. But it is almost certain that it will be among the first three top parties of the new parliament and very likely be one of the coalition partners in the new government. Since Özersay’s party is also on the center-right of the Turkish Cypriot political spectrum, a logical conclusion to draw is that the next government will most likely be a coalition of the UBP and the CTP.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, Özersay and the HP have supported a confederal or two-state solution as opposed to a federal one, which “has proved impossible many times over the past half century.” If Anastasiades is to win a second term in the Greek Cypriot side and a center-right government is to come to office in northern Cyprus after the Jan. 7 vote, there will be more meaning behind Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı’s recent emphasis on not wanting to fall into a “vortex of open-ended inconclusive talks.”
Anastasiades and his senior executives on the Greek Cypriot side want a settlement devoid of Turkish troops, along with guarantees that individual rights of Turkish Cypriots are restored, and some federal elements added to the Republic of Cyprus. These demands presage a dim future, even if the Cyprus process could somehow be rehashed after the polls.