AS EXPECTED, the National Unity Party (UBP) was the clear winner of the early elections in the north even though it failed to secure a majority in the 50-seat ‘parliament’. It took a 35.44 per cent of the vote, winning 21 seats, seven more than it had won in 2013. Revelations about a large amount of foreign currencies in a bank account belonging to party leader and ‘prime minister’, Huseyin Ozgurgun, had no impact on UBP’s showing and neither did the shabby dealings, regarding the granting of citizenships, at the centre of which was a leading member of the party.
The so-called party of the Left, Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which had the most seats in the last parliament, lost nine, its share of the vote contracting to 21.04 per cent from 38.38 in 2013. On the Greek Cypriot side, this was seen as a defeat of the pro-reunification camp, although the contraction of the CTP vote could be partly attributed to the emergence of the newcomer, People’s Party (HP), led by former negotiator Kudret Ozersay, that took 17.05 per cent and nine seats.
Several Turkish Cypriot commentators, quoted by the Sunday Mail, noted that the Cyprus problem had not been the main focus of the election campaign. This was understandable after the collapse of the peace process in Crans-Montana and the bleak to non-existent prospects of a breakthrough. The strong showing of the anti-reunification UBP could be linked to the collapse of the talks. The same shift of focus away from the Cyprus problem, however, has been evident in the election campaign on this side, despite attempts of the campaign teams to bring it to the fore. No matter how hard they try people appear disinterested, probably resigned to the view that the status quo would be the settlement.
Academic Ahmed Sozen said that the election “is not about the Cyprus problem, but about the ‘TRNC’ itself.” It was “about whether it is possible to have good governance, transparency and accountability as represented by such parties as CTP, HP and TDP (Communal Democracy Party) or whether people are content to continue with the clientelism represented by UBP or DP (Democratic Party).” The Turkish Cypriots gave an emphatic answer on Sunday by backing the UBP, which, with Serdar Denktash’s weakened DP would have 23 seats, two short of an outright majority.
The three parties, cited as supporters of good governance and transparency by Sozen, would have 24 seats if they joined forces. Interestingly the key is held by the Rebirth Party of the Turkish settlers that won three seats.