Turkish Cypriots to elect president in second round

Turkish Cypriots to elect president in second round

Turkish Cypriots to elect president in second round

Voters in the Turkish Cyprus will head to the polls again in the second round of the presidential election as the candidates have failed to secure more than 50 percent of votes in the first round of polls.

Official results have shown 29.8 percent of the votes given to the incumbent president Mustafa Akıncı, who is running for a second term.

He came narrowly behind Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, who won 32.3 percent, while center-left candidate Tufan Erhürman trailed to the third place with 21.6 percent.

Some 11 candidates in all contested the first-round election, including the country’s Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay, who came fourth with 5.7 percent of the votes.

Tatar and Akıncı will compete in the second round of the presidential election on Oct. 18.

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.

Low turnout

Turnout was at a record low in the leadership election, with just under 55 percent of voters casting their ballots, around 7 percent lower than the last poll five years ago.

Some political analysts attribute the low turnout to fear of the pandemic, the fact that some of the voters are abroad and resentment towards the candidates due to the economic recession in the country.

People had also voted in a referendum for the constitutional amendment to increase the number of high court judges.

While 49.80 percent of the voters were in favor of the amendment, 50.20 percent of them voted against it, according to the High Election Board.

Meanwhile, an intense process of persuasion awaits both candidates before the second round.

While Erhürman, a strong supporter of a federal accord who holds the voting potential of 22 percent, is expected to point to Akıncı for the second round, it seems difficult for Tatar to convince the voters of other right-wing candidates.

The first major test for the winner will likely be a meeting hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that will bring together the two sides with Cyprus’ three guarantors, Greece, Turkey and the U.K., to scope out the chances of resuming frozen peace talks.