Turkish Cypriots renew parliament in unrecognised state

The nationalist UBP is likely to be the party with the most votes, as was the case in the 2018 elections
PHOTO/OFICINA PRENSA PRESIDENCIAL vía REUTERS - El presidente turco Tayyip Erdogan celebra una conferencia de prensa con Ersin Tatar, dirigente del Estado escindido de Chipre del Norte

PHOTO/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE via REUTERS  -   Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan holds a press conference with Ersin Tatar, leader of the breakaway state of Northern Cyprus.

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is holding early legislative elections on Sunday amid a coronavirus pandemic and the effects of Turkey's financial crisis, on which it is directly dependent.

Around 200,000 registered citizens will have the chance to choose between the 403 candidates on the lists of eight political parties and three independents seeking one of the 50 seats in the Turkish Cypriot parliament.

The government that emerges from these elections will only be recognised by Ankara, so its relevance at the international level is secondary, except that it can reinforce the role of the president of the TNNC if he is of the same colour as Ankara. The chairman, currently Ersin Tatar, is the sole UN interlocutor and leader of the Turkish Cypriots in negotiations over the future of the divided island.

Tomorrow's election was called last November following the resignation of the right-wing nationalist coalition government formed by the National Unity Party (UBP), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Renaissance Party (YDP).

AFP/BIROL BEBEK - Las tropas turcas reabrieron parcialmente el balneario chipriota de Varosha, cerrado desde que sus habitantes grecochipriotas huyeron en 1974, lo que desató una controversia días antes de las elecciones turcochipriotas.
AFP/BIROL BEBEK - Turkish troops partially reopened the Cypriot resort of Varosha, closed since its Greek Cypriot inhabitants fled in 1974, sparking controversy days before the Turkish Cypriot elections.
Low enthusiasm among Turkish Cypriot voters

Compared to previous elections, there is little enthusiasm among voters for a polls that can make little difference to their daily lives and the severe problems they have faced over the past months in accessing basic commodities.

In addition, recent swings in the Turkish lira - adopted by the territory in 1976, two years after the Turkish invasion - have had a devastating effect on the daily lives of Turkish Cypriots.

In this context, covid limited the election campaign and parties resorted mainly to social media and television to present their positions.

According to recent polls 24.7 per cent said they would not go to the polls, while 8.6 per cent declared themselves undecided, and polls point to a landslide for the main parties.

The main issues of political confrontation centred on the economic situation, the peace dialogue between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, and the coronavirus.

Polls give victory to nationalists

Although experts agree that no poll can be trusted, the nationalist UBP is likely to be the party with the most votes, as was the case in the 2018 elections, when it won 35.6 per cent.

Although it starts as favourite, most polls show that the UBP, the voice of Ankara in this territory and the current government party, would only get around 24%.

Since 1975, the UBP, led until last year by the current president of the RTNC, the nationalist Ersin Tatar, has followed the line of its founder, Rauf Denktash, who advocates the division of the island of Cyprus into two states.

AFP/BIROL BEBEK - Vista de los edificios desiertos de la zona turística de Varosha, en la zona vallada de Famagusta, en el norte ocupado por los turcos de la dividida isla chipriota del Mediterráneo oriental
AFP/BIROL BEBEK - View of the deserted buildings in the tourist area of Varosha, in the fenced-off area of Famagusta in the Turkish-occupied north of the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

On the other hand, the main opposition party, the social democratic and pro-European Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which favours a bicommunal and bizonal federal solution in Cyprus and won the 2013 elections, is polling at around 16%, after polling close to 21% in 2018.

The Renaissance Party (YDP) would get 4.5 per cent, followed by the Democratic Party (DP) with 2.3 per cent.

Like the NCNC presidential elections, Turkish Cypriot parliamentary elections have been held every five years since the first in 1976, two years after Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus, which it still holds militarily occupied to this day.

The TRNC is a de facto state, a product of the occupation of the north of the island and self-proclaimed independent in 1983.

Legally, the entire territory of the island is a member of the European Union, but the application of the acquis communautaire in the north is on hold until the conflict between the two communities that has persisted since the Turkish invasion in 1974 is resolved.