The preliminary list of contenders in the upcoming Presidential Election in North Cyprus has been published. A total of eleven candidates, all male, have formally applied to the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK).
The list includes the incumbent Mustafa Akıncı and leaders or former leaders of five of the six parties in Parliament, namely Prime Minister Ersin Tatar (UBP), Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay (HP), former Prime Minister Tufan Erhürman (CHP), Prof. Erhan Arıklı (YDP), and Serdar Denktaş (DP).
Four of the other five candidates are standing as independents. These are lawyers Alpan Uz and Mustafa Ulaş, trader and serial presidential candidate Arif Salih Kırdağ, and Dr. Ahmet Boran, a doctor turned cosmologist who is currently under investigation for “insulting” President Erdoğan of Turkey. The final candidate is academic Dr. Fuat Çiner of the hard-right Milliyetçi Demokrasi Partisi (MDP).
The election for the next president of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) will be held on Sunday 11 October. It was originally scheduled to take place on 26 April 2020, but was postponed for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With Covid infection rates rising again in the TRNC, and a newly announced ban on public meetings in various TRNC villages, there are fears the elections may be postponed again.
That view was strengthened after it emerged at the weekend that one of the candidates, Erhan Arıklı, the leader of the Rebirth Party (Yeniden Doğuş Partisi, YDP), and his campaign team were having to self-isolate after two senior members tested positive for coronavirus.
Emre Dalgıç, who is head of the YDP Lefkoşa Branch, and Ayfer Altıncuoğlu, who is the YDP Lefkoşa Women’s Group head, both tested positive. It is understood Altıncuoğlu had recently visited Turkey.
Prof. Arıklı announced on social media that he and his team were all well, but had decided to suspend all campaigning for the next ten days due to the growing infection rate. They were also self-isolating at home as a precaution.
Separately, eyebrows were raised at the lack of women participating in the TRNC presidential election race.
In 2015, former Prime Minister Dr Siber Siber had stood as the candidate for the left-leaning CTP (Republication Turkish Party) and there were rumours she would stand again as an independent in 2020, but her name was absent from the list published by YSK.
Saturday’s front cover of leading TRNC daily Kıbrıs displayed pictures of all eleven candidates, prompting debate about the male-only list of contenders on social media.
— Eltan Halil (@eltanh) September 5, 2020
Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, the most senior Turkish Cypriot politician in Britain, tweeted: “Very disappointing. Probably what’s wrong with Cyprus (both sides) – women are sidelined.”
In another Facebook discussion, Enfield Councillor Alev Cazimoglu suggested that the TRNC adopt EMILY’s List. The American initiative, first introduced in 1985, helps women with a progressive political agenda to get elected. The US organisation describes its work on its website as:
“We recruit the strongest candidates, support campaigns that can win, study the electorate, and turn out the vote.”
Main image, top of 2020 TRNC Presidential rivals (left to right): TRNC Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay, TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı, and TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar