The north’s ‘transport minister’ Erhan Arikli survived a challenge for the leadership of his party the YDP on Sunday night at the party’s conference.

Arikli has led the YDP, the smallest in the north’s three-party ruling coalition, since it was formed in 2016, but was forced into a leadership election after the party’s only other ‘MP’ Talip Atalay had put himself forward for the party’s leadership.

However, when the voting results came in on Sunday night, Arikli had won in a landslide, winning 1,956 votes to Atalay’s 1,190.

The election campaign had been characterised by a robust war of words between Arikli and Atalay, but Arikli struck a more conciliatory tone in his victory speech.

“We may have spoken offensively during this process, but it is a great virtue to be able to leave the past in the past in politics. I would like to thank my dear general secretary Atalay, who carried out this challenge and accepted the result with great maturity,” he said.

He added, “there was no loser here, we had a conference, and the only winner was the YDP. I hope Atalay and his team will use their work to strengthen the YDP. This conference will be the rebirth of the YDP,” referencing the YDP’s full name in Turkish, the Rebirth Party.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar congratulated Arikli on winning his party’s leadership election, saying “it is my greatest wish that the YDP will continue to contribute to this country’s development and the welfare and happiness of our people.”

Arikli had endorsed Tatar in the second round of the 2020 Turkish Cypriot leadership election after finishing fifth in the first round.