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Our View: Election results will change nothing in the north

THE GENERAL view, regarding the elections in the north, was that the Turkish Cypriots voted against the Turkey-‘TRNC’ protocol, which envisages cuts in public sector spending and the privatisation of publicly-owned companies.

Although no party won an outright majority and a coalition ‘government’ would have to be formed, the ruling National Unity Party (UBP) was punished by the voters for its support of the much-hated protocol; the in-fighting, which continues post-election, and the recession did not help. Its share of the vote went down from 44 to 27 per cent, while its ‘prime minister’ was not re-elected.

But the new ‘government’ will be in no position to rid the north of the protocol which, ironically, was signed in 2009 by the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) that was the clear winner of last Sunday’s elections. When UBP came to power subsequently it was also forced to sign the protocol by Ankara. The CTP is likely form a coalition with Serdar Denktash’s Democratic Party that made significant gains at the expense of UBP. Before the elections Denktash had declared he was opposed to Ankara’s privatisation plans.

The problem for the north is its financial dependence on Turkey, which has been financing the breakaway state ever since its establishment. The debt to Ankara is now US$3.2 billion while the regime also owes US$1.5 billion to local banks, making its public debt, according to university estimates, 145 per cent of GDP. As we all know, such a debt is unsustainable, which is why the Erdogan government has been pressing for drastic public sector cuts and privatisations.

Resisting is futile, because Ankara could simply turn off the cash taps and public sector workers would not be paid.
The hollowness of the argument used by the CTP in the election campaign – that it would not implement the protocol in the way the UBP was implementing it – will be exposed, before long, because the Erdogan government will not back down. It will reduce the cost of the public sector and sell off ‘state’-owned companies to the private sector, regardless of Turkish Cypriot opposition and protests. The paymaster always calls the shots.

The election results will change nothing in the north. The implementation of the protocol will continue in the way Ankara sees fit. Despite the political rhetoric Turkish businesses will take over the ‘state’-owned companies and the bloated public sector will eventually be downsized as Turkey is determined to cut its losses in the north. The Turkish Cypriots must realise that as long as they are financially dependent on Ankara, they will not have much say over how they run their economy.

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