Turkish Cyprus opposition sweeps to victory
Turkish Cypriot opposition swept to victory in parliamentary elections in northern Cyprus on Sunday.
With 100 percent percent of the vote in, the right wing National Unity Party (UBP) clinched 44.06 percent of the vote, giving it by provisional accounts an outright majority in the 50 seat parliament. It was a stinging defeat for the ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP), a key ally of Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat.
The CTP, which bore the brunt of public discontent over a faltering economy and continued isolation of the state, took 29.25 percent of the vote.
Just under 162,000 people voted in the parliamentary elections in Turkish Cyprus, recognised by Turkey.
Talat will retain his leadership of the state, but his room for manoeuvre is likely to be limited by a parliament now dominated by the UBP.
The UBP has won 26 seats in the TRNC Parliament. The parliament has 50 seats in total.
Compared to the elections of February 20, 2005, the UBP has increased the number of votes it received by 12 percent. In 2005, the UBP had won 19 seats in the TRNC Parliament.
The ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) won only 15 seats in the TRNC Parliament. Back in the elections of 2005, the CTP had won 24 seats. CTP's number of votes received on Sunday dropped by 15 percent when compared to the elections of 2005.
The Democrat Party (DP) won five seats, while both Communal Democracy Party (TDP) and Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) each won two seats in the TRNC Parliament.
Based on the number of seats it won in the TRNC Parliament, the UBP can form its own government without a need for a coalition.
The UBP is led by Dervis Eroglu, a former prime minister of the TRNC.
A total of 161,373 Turkish Cypriots voted in the TRNC elections in 620 ballot boxes.
Voter participation rate in Sunday's elections stood at 81,42 percent.
Sunday's elections were the tenth general elections held in the history of the TRNC.
The TRNC has an electoral threshold of five percent. Political parties receiving less than five percent of the votes do not get represented in the TRNC Parliament.
The basis of the current talks is reuniting the island as a bizonal federation. The UBP says it wants a rethink of the process.
"We will continue to support negotiations," said UBP leader Dervis Eroglu. "No one should say we are against them. We will put forward our views and discuss them within the framework of Turkey's foreign policy on Cyprus."
In an earlier interview with Turkey's Zaman newspaper, Eroglu was quoted as saying: "Everything will be easier if it is universally accepted that we (Turkish Cypriots) are a nation and that we have a state."
Talat, whose own tenure as president expires in April 2010, said the winner of Sunday's poll should not disrupt peace negotiations.
"A government in (Northern Cyprus) that seeks to scupper the talks will also be harming Turkey's EU accession process," he told Havadis, a Turkish Cypriot daily.
Analysts said Turkey, which supported a U.N. peace blueprint for Cyprus rejected by Greek Cypriots in 2004, would not want a disruption of settlement talks.
"Turkey is going to continue on its EU path and wants (Northern Cyprus) to do the same," said Ahmet Sozen, a lecturer in international relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University.
"Turkey has sent a message to all political players in northern Cyprus that a no-solution policy is not a policy any more."
Talat and Christofias are negotiating on complex and divisive issues such as power-sharing, property rights and territorial adjustments.
The United Nations envoy for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said last week the negotiations had been making "steady progress".
Cyprus talks, which was interrupted when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan (Annan plan for solution of the Cyprus issue) in the twin referendums held on April 24, resumed in September 11 following the victory of Demetris Christofias, AKEL Chairman, in the presidential election held in Greek Cypriot part of the island.
Following a four year halt in negotiations, Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Christofias got together on September 3 to shape the procedure of full-fledged talks.
Cyprus joined the EU as a divided island when Greek Cypriots in the South rejected the UN reunification plan in 2004 even though the Turkish Cypriots in the north overwhelmingly supported it. The promise made by EU foreign ministers before the referendums to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and establish direct trade with North Cyprus remains unfulfilled.
Gaining independence from the UK in 1960, Cyprus became a bi-communal Republic where Greek and Turkish Cypriot constituent communities would share power guaranteed by the UK, Turkey and Greece. However, reluctant to share power and pursuing a policy of Enosis (Union) with Greece, Greek Cypriots soon expelled Turkish Cypriots from power and terrorised and ghettoised them.
Decades long armed attacks on the defenseless Turkish Cypriots culminated in 1974 when an Athens-backed Greek Cypriot military coup on the island led to Turkey's military intervention. Although the Republic of Cyprus as described in the 1959 agreements is no longer there, Greek Cypriots continue to enjoy this title and international recognition while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a fully democratic government representing Turkish Cypriots, still suffers under an unfair political and economic blockade.