Winners and losers in Northern Cyprus vote

Winners and losers in Northern Cyprus vote

The biggest loser of July 28’s vote in northern Cyprus was former Prime Minister İrsen Küçük and his National Unity Party (UBP). With the preference votes, supporters of the UBP “buried” the political aspirations of Küçük in the ballot box and refused to elect the former premier. The UBP, on the other hand, saw a sharp decrease in its votes and parliamentary strength. It received only 27.3 percent of the vote and produced 14 deputies. In the 2009 elections UBP had received 44.07 percent of the vote and won 26 seats in the 50-member single-house Parliament.

The biggest winner of the election, on the other hand, was the small Democrat Party-Nationalist Forces (DP-UG) that produced 12 deputies with 23.23 percent of the vote. The DP had received 10 percent of the vote and produced five deputies in the 2009 polls. Still, party leader Serdar Denktaş declared he was committed to his pre-election pledge to step down if his party did not come first in the polls. Yet, he said he will refer the issue to the party executive and act accordingly.

Similarly, the second loser of the July 28 election, Democratic Society Party (TDP) leader Mehmet Çakıcı, said he would abide by his pledge to step down but would leave that decision be made by his party executive. The TDP received 7.7 percent in July 28’s vote and produced three deputies, including Çakıcı. It had two deputies in the previous Parliament.

The second winner of the poll was the leftist Republican People’s Party (CTP), which with 38.37 percent of the vote increased its parliamentary strength by two seats to 21, five short of the required 26 seats to form a one-party government. The CTP had received 29.25 percent of the vote and obtained 15 seats in Parliament in the 2009 vote.

One last note: Results showed that none of the candidates with a labor union background managed to get elected. This naturally showed growing non-confidence of Turkish Cypriots in labor unions, which have a tradition of acting like political parties.

What’s now? Not only a prime minister could not come out of July 28’s ballot box, a new Parliament with many new faces was elected. For example Birikim Özgür, the academic son of late leftist leader Özker Özgür made it to Parliament in his first attempt. In all parties some candidates received far more votes than party leaders. Coupled with the fact that July 28’s was the poll with lowest participation (64 percent) it was obvious that Turkish Cypriots are frustrated with the performance of their parties and leaders and reflected (or not reflected) that in the ballot box.

Now, a new coalition will have to be established. Technically a nationalist alliance government of the UBP and the DP-UG is possible. Recent squabbles between the two parties, on the other hand, render that option rather difficult. Thus it will depend on the political skills of President Derviş Eroğlu, if he wants his former UBP to form a coalition with his new-supporter DP-UG against the left aligned with the demanding AKP of Turkey.

The second and third coalition options have the CTP as the senior partner. The CTP can form a coalition government with the 12-seat DP-UG or go for a grand coalition with the UBP and make the AKP happy. For the past many years the AKP wanted a grand coalition in northern Cyprus which would make it easier to implement a bitter economic restructuring program as well as bitter acceptance of some painful compromises in any Cyprus settlement with Greek Cypriots. Still, a CTP-DP-UG coalition appears more likely.

The results also dashed hopes of former President Mehmet Ali Talat getting elected to the presidency again. Results showed that the combined strength of the nationalist flank comfortably exceeds 50 percent of the vote and thus in the presidential elections to be held in less than two years’ time, a consensus candidate of the right may have the upper hand.