The polls open tomorrow for the second round of the presidential elections between incumbent Mustafa Akinci (Independent) and Ersin Tatar (UBP).
The outcome of the vote will herald very different approaches to the Cyprus problem.
As is known, Akinci supports a federal solution and Tatar supports two separate states. Given past history, either solution looks to be a struggle to achieve.
Although Ersin Tatar won the first round of the elections by a small margin, a number of observers believe that it is Akinci who is likely to win. The candidate with the third highest number of votes, leader of the CTP Tufan Erhurman, has said that he and his party will back Akinci because they share the same vision for Cyprus’ future and for reunification. The CTP is the second largest Party in North Cyprus, the UBP being the majority party.
Referendum on Cyprus Solution
Ahmet Sozen, professor of International Relations at Eastern Mediterranean University said that “This election has become a referendum on the issue of a federal-based solution or two-state solution“.
Pollsters suggest the first-round result may have galvanized Akinci’s support base.
Mine Yucel, from the Nicosia-based research group Prologue Consulting, told CGTN Europe: “This was an unnatural result to begin with. We have had an unprecedented level of intervention from Turkey in this election, and many of Akinci’s supporters simply did not turn out on the day. The result has been a candidate who does not back a federal deal.“
Meanwhile, regular columnist for Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ Yusuf Kanli wrote the following:
“ Mathematics on the ground indicate most likely that Akıncı might win a second term in office. What would be the impact of such an awkward situation, particularly, if Akıncı has been supportive of the Greek Cypriot’s demand to resume the Cyprus talks from where they collapsed in the summer of 2017, while Ankara and Turkish Cypriot conservatives say that before any new round of talks, the two sides on the island, the U.N. secretary-general and the three guarantor powers should come together at an informal summit to decide a new target and modality for the process as 60 years of talks in the previous format were proven doomed to fail.”
Other parties backing Tatar are of course, the UBP majority party, the DP and the settler’s party YDP. The People’s Party (HP) former coalition party has given its members a free vote.
The other factor affecting the outcome is how large the number of voters will be. The presidential election first round held last Sunday, saw its lowest ever voter turnout. Older voters, many of whom are CTP have failed to go to the poll, put off, in part by fears of the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to regular columnist for Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris Postasi’, Gökhan Altiner, although the CTP leadership is backing Akinci, this does not guarantee a block of votes for him. He writes:
“There is already a CTP voter protesting the election. There is a proportion of members of the CTP that does not want to support Akinci in any way. This crowd does not back Tatar, but will abstain from voting”.
The close voting results are similar to the presidential elections in 2015 between Mustafa Akinci and Dr Derviş Eroglu. Both men had opposing views on how to solve the Cyprus problem.
Given the decades that have passed since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared itself to be an independent state in June 1983, a conclusion is ever more urgent to a question that has now become wearisome to many onlookers.
Kibris Postasi, Hurriyet, CGTN – Europe
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