Turkish Cypriots to determine leader in neck-and-neck election

Turkish Cypriots to determine leader in neck-and-neck election

Turkish Cypriots to determine leader in neck-and-neck election

Turkish Cypriots will head to the ballot box to cast their votes in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday to choose their leader who will try to see if the paused talks with the Greek Cypriots can be restarted to end the division of the island.

The Higher Election Board (YSK) in Turkish Cyprus has announced that a total of 199,075 people are eligible for voting at a total of 738 polling stations in the elections in which incumbent President Mustafa Akıncı and Prime Minister Ersin Tatar will face off on Oct. 18.

Official results of the first tour have shown 29.8 percent of the votes given to the incumbent president Akıncı as he came narrowly behind Tatar, who won 32.3 percent.

Main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Erhürman, who trailed behind the two hopefuls at third place with 21.6 percent, became a kingmaker when he announced on Oct. 13 his party would back Akıncı. The right-wing Rebirth Party (YDP) and the Democratic Party (DP) announced that they would support Tatar.

People’s Party (HP), which withdrew from the government ahead of the first round of the elections on Oct. 11. due to Tatar’s move to open ghost town Varosha to the public after decades of closure, announced that it would not “direct any voters.”

In light of these balances, although Akıncı seems one step ahead on the way to the Presidential Palace in Lefkoşa, political experts say that the main determinant of the election is turnout in the ballot box.

Oct. 11’s poll saw a record low turnout of just under 55 percent, around 7 points lower than the last election five years ago.

Akıncı is in favor of restarting U.N.-brokered peace negotiations and reunifying Cyprus as a bizonal and bicommunal federation. He also advocates the continuation of relations with Ankara on the basis of equality and brotherhood rather than the motherland - “baby land” understanding.

Tatar does not explicitly oppose a federal solution, but he underlines that a possible settlement on the island should be on a two-state basis. In contrast to his main rival Akıncı, Tatar also believes that much closer ties should be established with the Turkish government.