The Supreme Electoral Board [Yüksek Seçim Kurulu, YSK] of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus have confirmed that a dozen candidates will be standing in the upcoming Parliamentary by-election on Sunday, 25 June.
The by-election was called after the leader of the People’s Party [Halkın Partisi, HP], Kudret Özersay (pictured top), resigned from Parliament last May over what he described were “undemocratic developments”, which had forced the elected Prime Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu out and installed Ünal Üstel in his place.
In his resignation statement on 26 May 2022, Özersay said: “As the leader of my party, I am taking the first step by resigning today, in order not to put up with all these undemocratic developments that run counter to the will [of the people], as a requirement of the sine-i millet decision taken by my party, and to show that we do not accept them as normal. My resignation today or, in the correct legal terms, my decision to withdraw from parliament is just the beginning.”
Özersay was one of three HP MPs who had managed to retain their seats in the January 2022 General Elections. The HP leader was elected as an MP in the capital Lefkoşa, where the by-election will be held.
According to the YSK, 12 candidates have been approved to stand in the June by-election. They are: Ali Başman (UBP), Sami Özuslu (CTP), Serhan Aktunç (DP), Figen Yaman Lesinger (YDP), Umut Ersoy (Bağımsızlık Yolu / Independent Way) and seven independents – Çetin Sadeli, Mert Taşkın, Talip Sancar, Nazım Özsever, Meriç Erülkü, Alper Özsakınç and Abdullah Korkmazhan.
The application of one prospective candidate, lawyer Tacan Reynar, who was representing the left-wing Communal Democracy Party (Toplumcu Demokrasi Partisi, TDP), was rejected by the YSK.
Reynar had been studying abroad during 2020 and 2021, prompting a complaint by another candidate, Meriç Erülkü, who pointed out Reynar could not fulfil the electoral code, which requires candidates in TRNC elections to have lived in the TRNC for three continuous years prior to the election. The complaint was upheld by a majority decision of the YSK, prompting strong condemnation by Reynar and his party.
The two favourites to fill the seat vacated by Özersay are businessman Ali Başman, who is from the ruling conservative National Unity Party (Ulusal Birlik Partisi, UBP) and journalist Sami Özuslu from the left-leaning main opposition Republican Turkish Party (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi, CTP).
Both candidates are well known and popular beyond their party networks, although there remains widespread disillusionment among the public towards all political parties in the TRNC.
The country is experiencing a major cost of living crisis brought on by years of mismanagement of the economy and state, which is plagued by cronyism, as well as the fall in the value of the Turkish lira.
Around 210,000 people in the TRNC are eligible to vote in the by-election on June 25, with the results expected on the same day.
The current make-up of the TRNC’s 50-seat parliament are as follows: 24 MPs for UBP, 3 MPs for its coalition partner Democrat Party (Demokrat Parti, DP) and 2 MPs for its junior coalition partner the Rebirth Party (Yeniden Doğuş Partisi, YDP), 18 MPs for the main opposition CTP and 2 former HP MPs who now sit as independents.