Dr. Faiz Sucuoğlu was the favourite to win the run-off and become leader of the National Unity Party (UBP) last October, after the role was vacated by Ersin Tatar, who had been elected President of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
Instead, the UBP leadership contest was unexpectedly called off and Ersan Saner installed as caretaker party leader and Prime Minister. The developments had rocked the party, especially after rumours circulated of external interference.
Twelve months on and despite a difficult build-up to the race, Sucuoğlu emerged as the winner this weekend, winning in the first round. A little over half of all party members took part in the ballot.
Sucuoğlu beat his two rivals, Hasan Taçoy and Zorlu Töre, convincingly taking 60% of the total vote to become the thirteenth UBP leader.
Nasıl başladıysak öyle bitirdik. Adımıza yakışır, Birlik içinde kurultayımızı tamamladık. Kazanan partimiz oldu, yeni Genel Başkanımız; Sayın Faiz Sucuoğlu, ülkemize hayırlı olsun.@UBPkibris @faiz_sucuoglu pic.twitter.com/3iMEVekjAk
— Oguzhan Hasipoglu (@hasipoglu74) October 31, 2021
Disgraced Prime Minister Ersan Saner had withdrawn from the four-man race at the start of the week, after a video of him masturbating while a scantily dressed woman undressed was leaked online.
In an unexpected twist, the scandal had threatened Sucuoğlu’s candidacy too, when one of his close aides was arrested as part of the police investigation into the leak. Testimony heard at Mağusa District Court on Monday, 25 October, about Saner’s sex video implicated Sucuoğlu after it was revealed he knew about the clip.
However, the 60-year-old former Health Minister denied any wrongdoing and refuted allegations that he was in any way involved in the scandal, claiming in a statement released a few days ago that he had not revealed details about the clip for fear of embarrassing the Prime Minister and his family.
Neither Saner nor Töre had originally entered last year’s leadership contest, but when it resumed this year, the party’s national executive decided to run a fresh election. Yet Sucuoğlu, who had taken nearly 40% of the vote in last year’s five-way contest, remained favourite to win.
The election was held during UBP’s two day party conference at the Lefkoşa Atatürk Indoor Sports Arena.
Chairing the event was former UBP Minister Sunat Atun, who said a total of 8,727 members had cast their vote from a possible 16,484, equating to a 52.94% turnout.
Özel de partimize, genel de ülkemize hayırlara vesile olsun…
Ulusal Birlik Partisi büyük bir demokrasi şöleninden alnının akıyla çıkmıştır…
Tebrikler Faiz Sucuoğlu başkan … 👏 pic.twitter.com/0e1lbYEthY
— Mehmet Aktunç (@aktunc_mehmet) October 31, 2021
Atun confirmed that Sucuoğlu had won in the first round, having garnered 5,295 votes (60.7%). Taçoy took second place with 2,869 votes (32.9%), while Töre trailed in a lowly third with 468 votes (5.4%).
The new UBP leader was seen shaking the hands of his opponents, while pledging to lead the party to outright victory in the impending general elections.
“Our goal is to get into power alone”, “We fully support President Tatar’s Cyprus policy” and “Love for Turkey is not even a discussion at UBP. The TRNC’s greatest fortune is that [Turkey] is its motherland”, were some of the key comments Sucuoğlu made in his victory speech.
Main image, top, library image of Faiz Sucuoğlu as a TRNC Minister, via TAK Ajans