Local elections are taking place across North Cyprus on Sunday 24 June to determine the new leaders and councillors for 28 councils. Voting will open at 8am and end at 6pm, with a maximum of 191,153 voters able to cast their votes at one of 734 polling stations.
A total of 111 candidates are standing in leadership contests for 28 councils across the country. Of these, just five are women, including Gencay Eroğlu who is the Democrat Party (DP) candidate for the leader of Lefkoşa City Council. Over a thousand people are also vying for votes to become one of 280 local councillors.
Alongside council elections, TRNC villagers also go to the polls to elect 237 muhtars (village heads) and 952 members of the council of elders (‘ihtiyar heyeti’).
The four-way coalition partners will be looking to extend their power locally, while main opposition UBP (National Unity Party) hopes to dent their ambitions by winning key councils, including the capital Lefkoşa. UBP’s candidate is Hasan Sertoğlu, the former chair of the Cyprus Turkish Football Association, who is up against incumbent Mehmet Harmancı of the TDP (Communal Democracy Party).
Competing against the main political parties are numerous independent candidates. Four years ago, independent candidates caused a major upset nationwide, winning the leadership of three major councils: Gazimağusa (Ismail Arter), Girne (Nidai Güngördü), and İskele (Hasan Sadıkoğlu). Few also predicted TDP’s Harmancı stunning victory, pipping the candidates of the three major parties UBP, CHP (Republican Turkish Party) and DP to become leader of Lefkoşa City Council.
At that time, turnout was 69.6%. However, lacklustre campaigns in 2018 may result in a lower turnout. Results are expected to be announced by the TRNC Higher Election Board late on Sunday night.
Main photo (L-R), three of the candidates standing for Leader of Lefkoşa City Council in the 2018 TRNC Local Elections: Mehmet Harmancı (TDP), Gencay Eroğlu (DP), and Hasan Sertoğlu (UBP)