TRNC coalition in troubled waters

TRNC coalition in troubled waters

The Turkish Cypriot left-right coalition government is cracking these days. One would think it ought to be the other way round, but the crisis stems from the decision of the socialist Republican Turks’ Party (CTP) to sack 366 contract workers and the center-right Democratic Party-National Forced (DP-UG) saying “No way.”

The 366 were hired by the last National Unity Party (UBP) government. Most of those people were relatives of the delegates of the UBP and the UBP was in an extended battle for leadership; every vote was of crucial importance. The incumbent, İrsen Küçük, emerged victorious from that convention but was buried at the ballot box by the people in the consequent election, while his opponents who left the party joined the DP to make it the DP-UG, emerging victorious and becoming the junior member of the current coalition government.

Thus, in essence, the DP-UG should not feel any loyalty to those 366 people who the CTP wing of the government wanted to sack. Why then is there a crisis now?

These people were hired by the UBP government in violation of an economic program signed with Turkey. The governor general, pardon Turkish ambassador, did not object to the hiring of these workers because Ankara was supportive of Küçük in the UBP’s inner war. Now the UBP is no longer in government. Those 366 contract workers and many other “derivations” from the economic protocol must be “corrected” now. The CTP wing of the government, partly in a bid to be on good terms with Ankara and partly with some domestic political petty calculations, wants to sack the workers. The DP-UG, on the other hand, is in an effort to replace the UBP as the biggest party in center-right politics.

The UG wing of the party, rather than trying to take revenge for the UBP convention they lost, now wants to win the rest of the party they defected by embracing even those people hired by the UBP leadership in exchange for their relatives’ votes at the UBP convention. Surprising enough, the CTP’s socialist wing, on the other hand, have pressed the current party leader and prime minister to sack the 366 because they were hired with political motivations; thus if there is going to political employment, why shouldn’t supporters of the CTP be recruited?

The president of the republic has been waging an uphill battle to convince Greek Cypriots to come to the negotiations table and end the 50-year Cypriot power-sharing problem between the two peoples of the island. The Greek Cypriot leadership has been taking every nasty move that might provide President Nicos Anastasiades a pretext to escape the talks. An army of international diplomats, Turkish, American, British and even Greek governments are working behind the scenes to achieve some headway.

Yet, in the northern third of the island, there is a left-right government – which indeed might be an asset in winning hearts, minds and of course votes of Turkish Cypriots if ever there will be an accord and that accord is put to separate referenda for the approval of the two peoples – which is about to be dissolved because of a trivial discussion.

Turkey cannot be bothered with the fate of these workers. They were hired with the consent of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and in the hopes of serving a purpose. Do they have any wrongdoing? No. Or is this just another maneuver by some political zealots in the deep AKP to kill the UBP as it would be unable to defend the rights of those 366 people. But in this fight, the DP-UG might emerge as an even-bigger headache for the AKP.

The AKP would not want DP-UG leader Serdar Denktaş to become the hope of Turkish